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Conference common room Volume 56 Number 2 Summer 2019

The magazine for independent schools

Performance and progress

Uniform that speaks for itself.

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Volume 56 Number 2 Summer 2019

Contents Editorial 5 Teachers Teachers matter most, Barnaby Lenon 7 Stress fractures, Danuta Tomasz 9 Mark my words, Matthew Jenkinson 10 Resilient, nimble and numerous, Christopher King 12 The legacy of Donald Hughes, Sarah Ritchie 16


Schools Can a new school building directly impact academic results? Antonia Berry The Campaign, OR Houseman Moreton Hall: a non-selective, no rules approach to education, Caroline Lang GDPR and schools, Richard Harrold

18 20 22 24

Pupils ‘Good habits formed at youth make all the difference’– Aristotle, 25 James Featherstone Drawing out unique potential, Gareth Turnbull-Jones 26 28 Getting the most from your data analysis, Sue Macgregor Jo blogs, David Tuck 29 Meet meat-free school meals, Nicky Adams 31 Clouds of glory, Anna Bunting 33 The other half, Michael Windsor 35 Translation, swearing and sign language, Emily Manock 37 38 Technology and teenage mental health, Andrea Saxel Getting it right for overseas pupils from the start, Helen Wood 40 Generation Z, Helen Jeys 44 This is UEA, Amy Palmer 46 Abroad Developing and managing schools overseas, Fiona McKenzie ‘Too early to say’? Patrick Tobin

48 50



Books ‘Ms Kennedy knows absolutely everything’, Alison Kennedy 52 A Delightful Inheritance by Peter LeRoy 55 reviewed by David Warnes From Morality to Mayhem, by Julian Lovelock 57 reviewed by David Warnes Endpiece Global city, global learning, Jason Morrow 61 Cover image – King’s Ely, see page 40

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Now with dedicated search pages for UK regions and counties, many of which feature on the first page of Google search results. Add your school’s dates to our open days calendar and send us your success stories to post in the news section, which also includes leading advice and features provided by our featured schools. Featured schools can add social media links to their profile, including embedding a Twitter feed, and can showcase a promotional YouTube or Vimeo video. Our site has visitors from across the world looking for UK independent schools, and an established UK audience. Families can find and compare their nearest schools with our postcode search. SchoolSearch is in association with John Catt’s Which School? guidebook, now in its 94th edition, John Catt’s Preparatory Schools and Which London School? & the South-East.

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Editorial Editor Tom Wheare Managing Editor Jonathan Barnes Production Editor Scott James Advertising Manager Gerry Cookson Email: Conference & Common Room is published three times a year, in January, May and September. ISSN 0265 4458 Subscriptions: £25 for a two-year subscription, post paid; discounts for bulk orders available. Advertising and Subscription enquiries to the publishers: John Catt Educational Ltd, 15 Riduna Park, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 1QT. Tel: (01394) 389850. Fax: (01394) 386893. Email: Managing Director Alex Sharratt Editorial Director Jonathan Barnes Editorial address: Tom Wheare, 63 Chapel Lane, Zeals, Warminster, Wilts BA12 6NP Email: Opinions expressed in Conference & Common Room are not necessarily those of the publishers; likewise advertisements and editorial are printed in good faith, and their inclusion does not imply endorsement by the publishers. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recorded or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Editor and/or the publishers. Printed in England by Micropress Printers, Suffolk, IP18 6DH

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Summer 2019

This summer, our publishers are celebrating their sixtieth anniversary. The founder, John Catt, had taught at Woodberry Forest School in Virginia from 1948 to 1954 and brought his American experience to bear in the field of fundraising on his return to England. The publishing business he established in 1959 soon became first choice for school fundraising brochures, which made him a natural choice to partner the editorial board of ‘Conference’, described as a ‘trade magazine’ in the first words of the editorial of Volume One, Number One, published in September 1963. Two letters in the correspondence section are revealing. The first, from Harold Birkbeck, Headmaster of Barnard Castle, maintained that the individualism of HMC members made it ‘practically impossible to project’ an image of the Conference, whilst at the same time fearing that ‘if a circulation wider than the schools in membership is contemplated, inevitably outside readers would tend to believe that the articles reflected HMC official policy’. The second letter, from Alan Barker of The Leys, welcomed ‘the birth of this new periodical as an important weapon in destroying the wall of secrecy which surrounds the public school ... The initials HMC appear to stand for High and Mighty Conference to many outsiders. Until our last Annual Meeting the Press had been banned from our gatherings … The time for silence has gone.’ From the second number onwards, John Catt Limited acted as Business Managers and, as John Catt Educational Ltd, they continue to publish the now free-standing magazine. Maintaining the individuality of schools is one of the great benefits of independence, as are the remaining but significantly reduced areas of freedom from government control. The sector needs to stick together as schools face hostility from both political wings, serious economic challenges in funding pensions and salaries, and threats such as the loss of charitable status and VAT on fees. AGBIS, formed in 2002, is an outstanding example of a prudent willingness to set aside old differences, created by the merging of GBGSA and GBA and now also representing the governing bodies of schools in membership of IAPS, ISA and SHMIS. An independent school’s governors are perhaps the most low profile of all its constituent groups, but they carry the final responsibility. As Heads and Heads’ Associations make the case for their schools individually and collectively, the now much more significant ISC represents the whole sector, David to the governmental Goliath. But independence is not only under threat in education. Last summer, Georgia Duffy, the owner of the Imagined Things Bookshop in Harrogate, made national headlines when she tweeted that on one day she had taken just £12.34. This exemplified the plight of independent businesses across the country, battling against the threat of online shopping and out of town shopping centres, combined with rising rents and rates and increased parking charges. One immediate response came from Ashville College, which not only decided that in future it would buy its books from Imagined Things, but also launched a loyalty scheme through which other local businesses offer discounts to parents, pupils, staff and alumni. The Booksellers Association (BA) fulfils a similar function to that of ISC, representing over 95% of specialist booksellers selling new books. Its National Book Tokens encourage people to buy from bookshops and BA promotional campaigns create a higher profile. Its first Academic Book Week, in November 2015, saw over 60 events hosted across the UK and internationally, at libraries, bookshops, universities and academic publishers, with the aim of getting people talking about academic books. Events ranged from questioning the future of the academic book and where it will ‘live’, to the importance of university bookshops. It also asked the question of whether or not we can trust Wikipedia as a reliable source before the current furore over fake news, and nominated Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as ‘the academic book that changed the world’. This year’s Academic Book Week saw Darwin’s book voted ‘most influential banned book’, ahead of other titles on the shortlist that will be familiar to generations of schoolchildren – Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye and The Grapes of Wrath.

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Editorial The loss of local bookshops may be the result of commercial competition, but the loss of local libraries is conscious government policy. As Alison Kennedy’s article shows, the reach of the library and the librarian is infinite, and the need for guidance is as great as the need for having the resources in the first place. Pupils in schools with good libraries are very fortunate, but public libraries should and can reach every citizen. Whilst competition in the market place may be seen as a form of the struggle for the survival of the economically fittest, some of the by-products of commercialism red in tooth and claw are positively damaging to the planet. Meanwhile, the immensely privileged welfare state generation is witnessing the denial, either positively via austerity or passively through inertia, of the reasonable expectations of those that come after them. In an interview in The Guardian published on 16th April, Kenneth Clarke described the recent ‘bizarre, day-by-day, incompetent manoeuvrings that are going on’ in Parliament about Brexit as being ‘like a parody version of student politics. The trouble is, the subject matter is of desperate importance to the wellbeing of the next generations.’ Pausing briefly to wonder which group would be the more offended by this somewhat Delphic comparison, it is certainly the case that ‘student politics’ are no longer what they were in Clarke’s days in the Cambridge Union. Student activists now come from the classroom as well as the campus, and pupils in schools are beginning to set their own political agenda, even striking to draw attention to climate change, the threats to the environment and the future of their world. On 9th October 2012, fifteen year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by a Taliban gunman because she campaigned for the right of girls to go to school. Her Nobel Peace Prize reflects not only the strength of the movement she has launched, but also the willingness of the international community to recognise the achievements of young people. Following the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on St Valentine’s Day 2018, survivor Emma Gonzalez joined with other students in launching the Never Again movement which continues to be a significant voice in political and civil issues in the United States. Inspired by this, fifteen year old Greta Thunberg went ‘on strike’ from school in August 2018, sitting outside the Riksdag to demand that the Swedish government should implement the reduction of carbon emissions set out in the Paris Agreement. This has led to the international School strike for climate movement which is said to have reached a numerical peak of over a million on 15th March 2015, including 50,000 in the UK. The wellbeing of the next generations is indeed of desperate importance and schools are crucial garrisons in the fight for the future of the planet.

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Summer 2019


Teachers matter most

Barnaby Lenon reviews the basics of good and effective teacher training

All research evidence tells us that of the many things that can determine the success of a child’s education, after the influence of his parents comes the impact of individual classroom teachers. They are more important than the overall reputation of the school the pupil goes to. In an ideal world parents would choose their child’s teachers, not their school. A really good teacher gets their class to the same point after six months that an average teacher reaches after a year. A weak teacher reaches that same point after 18 months. But at the moment we face a crisis with teacher supply in England. The school population is rising (up 15% 2019-2020), but teachers are leaving faster than they are joining. A third of teachers quit within five years and in physics last year the number of trainees was 47% of the numbers needed. The two main factors are low unemployment (so there are plenty of alternative jobs to go to) and perceived stress and lack of work-life balance during the term. That is why the government has just launched a new framework for new teachers in the state sector designed to limit their teaching timetable and provide them with more support. Because teachers matters most, I was glad to be asked to help run the School of Education at the University of Buckingham, not far from where I live. The School was established by Chris Woodhead (former Chief Inspector of schools) and Professor Anthony O’Hear, based on two main ideas – that other university teacher training departments were often teaching completely false concepts, and that the most effective teacher training takes place in school classrooms. Today much of our training happens by using trained tutors and mentors to guide teachers by

observing them in the classroom. Most of our younger students already have jobs in schools but they are untrained. Buckingham is a private university and I find that I have a great deal of freedom. So my first job is to decide what I believe as a basis for deciding what types of training to run. These are some of the things I believe: 1. School teaching can be the most fulfilling job – creative, autonomous and a major influence for good on people’s lives. 2. Good subject knowledge is a principle characteristic of the best teachers. 3. Good teacher training focuses on the details of classroom management and understanding what good research and experience tells us works best. 4. Most so-called professional development does not work. What does work is deliberate practice – focusing on doing things the teacher cannot yet do well enough, ideally with feedback. This is why at Buckingham we believe in classroom-based teacher training. Teachers can improve throughout their working lives, but will only do so if they experiment with methods they have not used before. 5. Different school subjects are different and need specific teaching methods. 6. I believe in the value of some learning being hands-on, including science practicals and geography fieldwork. 7. There is no one correct teaching style, but some methods are more effective than others. Direct instruction works well. 8. Many children can do better at school than they are doing. We can expect more.

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Teachers 9. All children need to be able to read well before they leave primary school. Phonics is the best way to do this. 10. Little can be achieved, especially in secondary schools, without good discipline. Discipline, rigour and hard work matter more than making lessons relevant or fun. 11. Engagement with and even training of parents is important. 12. All children, but especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds, need a body of knowledge to build on if they are to make a success of school. You cannot think deeply about a subject unless you have knowledge. Disadvantaged children need access to the knowledge known as cultural capital, including vocabulary, if they are to compete. 13. Repeated testing is essential if pupils are to retain knowledge and understanding. Education is in part about placing knowledge securely in the long-term memory. 14. Both teachers and pupils need to believe that ability is not fixed but can be developed by effort. Some people are more naturally gifted than others, but the less able can compensate if they work hard. 15. Reducing gaps in achievement between sub-groups (based on gender, ethnicity, social class, special needs) is worth doing, but is less important than getting all sub-groups up to a good level. 16. Technology should be used where there is good evidence it



is better than direct instruction by a teacher alone. Good textbooks can be as important as computers. 17. Pupils need to develop strong spoken skills in the context of every school subject. 18. School is not only about exam results. Good mental and physical health, soft skills, worthwhile habits, academic motivation, and the discovery of new interests such as art, music and drama are also important. So these are the things I believe are true and apply to both state schools and independent schools. Now I have got to work out the best ways of communicating them to teachers. Barnaby Lenon taught at Eton for 12 years, was the deputy head of Highgate School, head of Trinity School Croydon and head of Harrow for 12 years. He then helped establish the London Academy of Excellence in East London, one of the most successful state sixth forms, where he is chairman of governors. He is chairman of the Independent Schools Council and has been a governor of twenty state and independent schools. He was a member of the board of Ofqual during the implementation of the Gove reforms to GCSEs and A-levels and is now on their Standards Advisory Committee. He has written six books including, recently, Much Promise about high-achieving state schools and Other People’s Children about the least academic 50% in England.

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Leys pupil designs trophy for £1m engineering prizewinners A 16-year-old pupil at The Leys, Cambridge, Jack Jiang, has won an international competition to design the trophy for the £1million Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, regarded as the world’s most prestigious engineering accolade. The trophy will be presented later this year to Dr Bradford Parkinson, Professor James Spilker, Hugo Freuhauf and Richard Schwartz for their work creating the first truly global, satellitebased positioning system – GPS. Jack will receive a 3-D replica of his trophy design and a high-end laptop computer. He has also been invited to see the trophy being presented to the prize winners in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace later this year. Jack’s design was selected from more than 50 international entries to the competition, which was open to young people aged 14-24. He created it using the QE Prize 3D Design Studio app Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group and chairman of the judging panel, said: ‘What strikes me about the winning trophy is how well it manages to demonstrate its two main inspirations. It is both an elegant design that acknowledges the traditional trophy form, but its resemblance to wind turbines shows Jack’s strong passion for engineering and its role in solving future global problems. We also chose Jack’s design for its sheer exuberance – it will require a great amount of concentration and imagination to make. That quality appeals to the judges, and we will work closely with Jack to realise the final trophy.’ When asked about winning the competition, Jack said: ‘Being one of the youngest entrants selected for the top 10 shows that creativity and the ability to design is not limited by age. I hope this inspires more young people to enter into the world of engineering. There are countless environmental problems around the world, and right now they are only getting worse. However, I know that it will be engineers that provide solutions to them.’


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Stress fractures

Danuta Tomasz warns against taking ‘no pain, no gain’ too far Our performance-obsessed culture often requires a trade-off between work ethic and wellbeing. If schools or parents force children to sacrifice one in pursuit of the other they are likely to end up with neither successful students nor fulfilled ones Student stress has become such an acute issue in recent years that several schools and universities have taken to employing ‘therapy pets’ to calm nerves. Last year, one companion dog was in such demand at a university that it had to be retired early because its handlers realised it was suffering from overwork. As metaphors go, it’s hard to think of a more apt one to describe our attitude to student wellbeing. Our children’s lives are more structured and more intensely calibrated to maximise academic and career performance than ours ever were when we were young. The pressure to succeed has never been greater. Umpteen surveys and polls confirm that too many of our children say they are unhappy. But the response has often been inadequate. And if the solution is to rely solely on the involuntary services of a therapy dog at the end of a young person’s educational career, then arguably we need to rethink the issue. The problem isn’t going to go away and, indeed, in some ways it is intensifying. Suicide rates among teenagers in the UK have risen substantially in recent years and we have the dubious distinction of having the highest self-harm rate of any country in Europe. Of course, it’s too easy – and misleading – to exclusively blame exam pressure and the rigours of the curriculum for this decline in mental health, but these are undoubtedly contributing factors for many adolescents. That immediately presents us with a dilemma, because we as educators cannot eliminate stress entirely. A certain amount of pressure is integral to learning. Children are frequently told that ‘there is no gain without pain’, and while the language of suffering isn’t exactly helpful, teachers would be failing in their duty if they did not prepare students for what can be a challenging journey. The latest scientific research, for instance, suggests that knowledge only penetrates into long-term memory after something like 14 repetitions. Deep learning requires deliberate practice, however boring and inconvenient that can be. Students improve when they master the elements of the curriculum they struggle with, rather than reproduce the bits they find easy. All of those challenges can at times be stressful for children, and we won’t help them or their parents by pretending otherwise. It is our job as educators to help students to understand that if they want to work successfully they have to learn to work deeply. It is a question of teaching students how to manage and channel pressure, of learning from frustration and failure and harnessing those lessons in order to ultimately succeed. Yet if inculcating a work ethic in students is essential, so is a recognition that one of the biggest impediments to academic performance is too much stress. Study after academic study only confirms what common sense supposes – happy students make

for better students. We will not help our students academically if we make unreasonable demands on their time, weigh them down with too much revision and homework, or narrow the curriculum to concentrate on passing exams. The vast majority of teachers instinctively understand this. But inflated expectations, whether held by parents or increasingly by students themselves, can be cruel taskmasters. Today’s youngsters have to cope with an online environment that can distract and diminish in equal measure, as well as academic pathways that have rarely been more competitive. It’s not surprising if many buckle under the strain. What teachers cannot do is let them sacrifice their wellbeing in pursuit of a goal that will only become more elusive the more anxious they become. How then can we balance our duty to teach a rigorous, challenging curriculum while at the same time ensuring that our students are stretched rather than overly stressed by its demands? I believe that there are several things schools and parents can do. The first is teaching children to understand the power of the word ‘yet’. As Carol Dweck argues, when students begin to understand that they may not be able to accomplish a task ‘yet’, but that they will someday, it immediately reduces the pressure to perform. If children know that they are not expected to get an answer right straight away, they instinctively feel less stressed and more confident in their ability to ponder and reflect. This is particularly effective at junior and prep school. Once the habit is embedded, children should be much better able to handle the pressures of their later school career. Limiting exposure to social media is essential, too. I appreciate that this isn’t always easy, but there is increasing scientific evidence that prolonged immersion in social media is making teenagers more anxious and depressed. Too many of the influences young people are subjected to online are negative and guaranteed to undermine their confidence and reinforce a sense of isolation. Rationing social media use can only be good for the welfare of youngsters and, ultimately, their learning. Finally, schools should offer students as many opportunities as possible to do activities that aren’t purely academic. They should be encouraged to play, dance, act, run, jump, lead, swim, sing, kick a ball and participate in all the other activities good schools pride themselves on providing. This not only has the advantage of weaning children from their phones, it builds character and aids academic performance rather than detracting from it. We will never eliminate stress in education – pressure is intrinsic to the practice of learning. Nor can we sacrifice student wellbeing in the pursuit of academic success – stressed students make poor scholars. Instead, we have to accept that performance and wellbeing are intrinsically linked and that if we pursue one at the expense of the other we will end up with neither successful students nor fulfilled ones. Danuta Tomasz is Director of Education, UK, for the global schools group Cognita. Summer 2019



Mark my words

Matthew Jenkinson apostrophises Like many teachers, I am currently very much enjoying reading Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson’s What Does This Look Like in the Classroom? – a practically useful antidote to sometimes cold and distant educational research. As someone who spends a significant proportion of his life marking (English and History – lots of words in those) or asking others to mark effectively, I have been particularly taken by the chapter on assessment and feedback. There has been quite a lot of head-nodding going on. ‘It’s very difficult to be excellent if you don’t know what excellent looks like.’ ‘Uhuh’. ‘Don’t ever give feedback to students unless you make the time … for them to respond to that feedback.’ ‘Sure’. ‘It has to be specific, very precise, and making sure that it’s expressed in such a way and that it’s dealing with something that the people already have some ownership of.’ ‘Absolutely’. There have been some nuggets that have made me think about my own classroom practice and the fundamental rationale behind it. ‘Feedback that is given too frequently can lead learners to overly depend on it as an aid during practice, a reliance that is no longer afforded during later assessments.’ ‘Yup, that’s what I feared’. ‘Students will only act on feedback if they believe they can get better, so motivating students to believe in improvement itself becomes a key part of the challenge.’ ‘I agree but do I always focus on it?’ ‘Make feedback into detective work.’ ‘Hmmm, interesting’. ‘The best person to mark a test is the person who just took it.’ ‘Ah, that’s what I kind of stumbled towards while left to my own devices revising for A-Levels all those years ago’. Prompted by all this sage advice – model what you’re looking for; get pupils hungry for feedback that they can comprehend and have ownership of; give whole-class feedback on common misconceptions; harness the power of the self-quiz or the expertly-controlled peer assessment – I have been thinking about why we tick, correct spellings, write nice things, and give areas for further improvement. I’ve been wondering why we bother if so many of our suggestions go unheeded straightaway. If little Bobby doesn’t use apostrophes for ownership after the thirtieth time of asking, should I just give up? Should I radically overhaul expectations of myself and my colleagues, after all that apparently ineffectively spilt ink? And the answer is … no. When discussing the power of marking and feedback, we can too often focus on little Bobby’s apostrophes. We can get frustrated that we told the pupil to do something, they smiled and nodded, then totally forgot, or didn’t actually listen. Even when we get little Bobby to initial next to our comment that they’d read it, or if we ask them to write a little note, against which we can write a little note if we wish, it’s 10

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usually the case that that pesky apostrophe won’t appear next time. It’s frustrating – sure – but only if we misunderstand what marking is about. I would argue it is not about the quick fix or the immediate improvement. Most pupils, as we all know, do not follow an upwardly linear path. Rather, marking and feedback is about creating a culture, and it is this culture that will have positive impacts in the long term, beyond the apostrophe. When I think back to the marking in my own schoolbooks, I can remember four or five instances of corrosive feedback. I know, it’s a bit odd, but I dwell on these things. The first was in a piece of Year 7 Science homework where the teacher scribbled ‘3/10’ and left it at that. For years I had no idea how to get the extra seven marks: in fact I think the answer came to me about fifteen years later while I was still mulling it over (yes, I know) on some interminable train journey. The second was some marginalia in a Year 9 History essay where the teacher had made the annotation next to one of my arguments, ‘I said that’, and wrote virtually nothing else. Well, yes, you did – but is it a huge problem if I am adding ideas that have come up in the lesson? I’ll never know. Or how about the Year 12 Politics essay when I was told ‘… and repetition is dull’ because I’d twice written ‘knowledge is power’? What have I learned from that snarky comment? That I shouldn’t repeat myself? That I shouldn’t repeat myself? Or, finally, my first year undergraduate tutor (I use the term loosely – I was quite unsure which century of French history we’d been studying after a year of this person’s lectures) who sneered ‘Oh, you’re one of those are you?’ after I’d asked how I might improve my middlingly 2:1 essay.

Teachers It’s alright. I’m over it. All of these examples speak to a culture in which the educational process was undermined because of the cursory, the snarky, the dismissive, the vague. If our marking is quick and messy – an impatient tick and turn, a scribbled grade – then our pupils notice that we have not taken care over what they have written. And, quite often, they have put in an enormous amount of effort into that writing. We correct spelling and punctuation to model the correct way of writing, effective communication skills, attention to detail, and so on. But we also do it because it says to the pupil, ‘I’ve read your work carefully enough to notice where the errors are, and I care enough about you and your work to show you how to get better’. Once that relationship is built and enhanced between pupil and teacher then the culture is one in which there is sufficient trust and care for improvement to occur over the long term. The missing apostrophe might not appear tomorrow or next week, but if little Bobby knows that I care enough about his education and progress, he will be more likely to engage with my teaching and his learning, and improvement will occur in so many different areas – apostrophe or no apostrophe. If little Bobby clocks that



I’m only marking because I have to or because I’ve been told to, that I don’t really enjoy what I’m doing or care about what they’ve written, then it is a corrosive factor in the classroom. It’s a hard one from which to recover. Also, it’s nice to write nice things about people and their work. I’ve marked thousands and thousands of scripts, but it’s still a joy to point out when someone has done something well, or where they’ve made improvement. It’s great to be able to reward them. I know it’s hard work and it’s time consuming – which is why comments should be specific and precise – but I’d rather front-load the culture in my classroom by showing that I care, which will save time later on from not having to claw back pupils I’ve lost because they think, rightly or wrongly, I don’t have any time for their work. And, call me a sadist or a pedant, but it’s enjoyable to be able to find something to improve on next time, no matter how ‘perfect’ the piece of work in front of me might be. There’s always something, and as often as not it’s a missing apostrophe. Matthew Jenkinson is Deputy Head Academic of New College School, Oxford

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Target topped

Bryanston School’s annual Charities Day, organised by the Heads of School, and the prefects, took place on 3rd March with a host of fundraising events aiming to raise an ambitious target of £29,000 to enable United World Schools (UWS) to build a school for 200 children in Cambodia. Astonishingly they raised more than £54,000, an achievement which far exceeds any other fundraising event in the school’s history. This proved to be enough to fund a second school in Myanmar and to cover the first year running costs for both. The new schools will be run by UWS as part of its programme to improve the life opportunities of some of the world’s poorest children through education. Speaking after the event, Sara Furness, Associate Director for Partnerships at United World Schools, said: ‘We are, quite simply, blown away by the support, enthusiasm and generosity of the pupils and staff of Bryanston School. The passion and planning for the fundraising drive was truly inspirational. The impact of this project will be felt for generations to come.’ Across the weekend, pupils and staff were involved in a range of events from a Dance Show to a Dog Show, with a silent auction and a photography exhibition. The Whole School Challenge involved over 500 pupils, as well as teaching and support staff, undertaking a wide range of ambitious challenges that included rowing the Atlantic on an indoor rowing machine, swimming the equivalent distance to crossing the English Channel and climbing Mt Snowdon. Head, Sarah Thomas, commented: ‘The success of the event is an enormous testament to the leadership of the Heads of School. They have set the bar exceptionally high and delivered a wonderful and diverse weekend. It was also incredibly heartening to see the support from the rest of the school. Everyone contributed to the weekend, whether it was taking part in a challenge, sponsoring a fellow pupil or simply supporting their peers behind the scenes. Thanks must also go to our teaching and support staff who gave their time generously, and our parents who helped by donating or bidding on items in the silent auction or supported the various events throughout the weekend.’

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Resilient, nimble and numerous

Christopher King celebrates the enduring strength of Prep Schools

Let’s be clear from the start, prep schools are not dying. They are thriving, innovating and full of drive to be vibrant places of learning with a curriculum that is relevant for the future. Yes, of course, there are challenges which are well documented and mostly sector-wide in their impact. Is the typical prep school keeling over and accepting defeat? No, not at all, it is fighting hard and coming out ahead. It is infuriating then to read yet another article from a selfpublicising senior school head, pontificating from their desk in a school which has a termly fee equivalent to a prep school’s annual charge and, in doing so, rubbishing the independent sector and undermining prep schools in the process. The


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staggering level of casually applied ignorance ends up biting the feeder schools the senior heads have relied on for many decades. It is beyond me why there is not more public respect for all the great preparatory work which goes on in the prep schools. In falling over themselves to praise the achievements of the state schools with whom they have partnership agreements, they forget to acknowledge the prep schools that send them so many well prepared pupils. IAPS, an association of prep school heads, is also in rude health. All the top prep schools in the UK are in membership which, as I write, is at 627 schools, more than double that of HMC, and there are more pupils in our schools than any other


heads’ association. Typically, member schools in IAPS have just under 300 pupils and shape their business plans accordingly to allow sensible planning for the future. The recent attack on the Common Entrance examination may, if I’m generous, have been simply a statement by a few schools of what really had been their approach to entrance testing for several years. It’s clearly a senior school’s prerogative to have any entrance procedure it may choose, but citing a wish to remove unnecessary examination pressure in order to improve a child’s wellbeing is frankly an effort in convincing themselves that what they are doing is right. The true pressure on young people comes from the stress of trying to meet the super-selective entrance expectations of some of the senior schools. Children feel the pressure when they are entered for multiple schools, each with their own entrance procedure, and from the army of tutors parents employ to push their child to the front of an ultra-competitive race. Before rubbishing Common Entrance, why not speak out against the unregulated, dubiously qualified tutors who offer a ‘shadow education’ and not against the professional, child-centred, supportive prep school. The typical school in membership of IAPS is most likely to take children through to the end of Year 6, although there is a small but growing group that now offer GCSEs and take children on to Year 11. A goodly number are part of

larger educational `trusts’ and as such are party to offering an all-through education. There is also still a strong core of ‘traditional’ prep schools taking their pupils to the end of Year 8. There is much diversity in the character of the current prep school landscape, and the schools are clearly demonstrating that they are nimble and able to adapt to the changing market. The latest manifestation of this has been their response to the proposed increases in employer contributions to teachers’ pensions. In the immediate aftermath of the jaw dropping news of a 43% increase in those contributions there was a good deal of disbelief and some anger. Now, though, prep schools have moved on to find a way to budget for the future without heaping all the additional cost onto the parents via increased fees. Prep schools have at the heart of their provision the allround development of the child. The well-being of the prep school pupil was also a priority in the best schools long before the term came into common usage within education. Strangely, the relatively small size of a prep school can lead some to look down on such establishments, missing the point that many stay small by design, because they are aware that this allows them to be sure that every child is known and nurtured as an individual. Music provision is very strong, which is just as well for the country as a whole, as budget cuts lead to a move away from the performing arts in state schools. As for sport, some of the senior

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school heads would be well advised to get themselves informed about the IAPS sports competitions. 26,000 pupils took part in 27 different sports, and the swimming competition culminated in a gala at the former Olympic swimming venue in Stratford. The sailing regatta takes place in Weymouth, again at the former Olympic venue. The ambition for the sports programme is impressive and has no comparable senior school rival. I am aware that the majority of senior school heads roll their eyes too at the ignorance of the few. Very positive relationships exist, of course, in most cases between the prep and senior school heads. It is equally true that the most measured senior school heads work sensibly to carry the traditional feeder prep school heads along with their changing admission policies. My criticism is simply aimed at those who value a sub editor’s headline along with mention of their name in the Saturday 14

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editions of national newspapers above solid relationships with their traditional feeder schools. The prep school world is part of the independent school sector which can find very few political allies who speak publicly in support of what we do. Surely this is the very time when the whole sector needs to hang together and be mutually supportive, with a message that we are part of the educational choice offered to parents, and that we all have a part to play in improving education provision in the UK. What we don’t need is the few to find fault where none exists, and to put their name first ahead of what is good for the sector. Christopher King is the CEO of IAPS and a former Chairman of HMC




If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Fashion forward Flamboyance and flair took centre stage on Thursday 21 March when Heathfield staged its annual fashion show. As Heathfield marks its 120th Anniversary, the array of creations gracing the catwalk celebrated work past and present, ranging from costume and wearable sculpture through to demi-couture and accessories. The garments have been designed and produced by students as part of their examination level work for GCSE and A-Level Art and Design, spread across Fine Art and Textiles. This year students benefited from the professional input of fashion industry expert Stephen Lisseman, who approached the school to share his experiences of working in the sector alongside big names such as Karl Lagerfeld, Christopher Bailey, Gucci and Tom Ford. Stephen worked with GCSE and A level students on 1:1 tutorials aimed at consolidating design skills, and delivered a series of lectures on topics including: Theory of Design, New Aesthetics, Fabric Selection, Portfolio Preparation and Building a Collection. Organised by Heathfield’s Head of Art & Design and Head of Humanities Faculty, Mrs Eve Feilen, the collaboration has been a huge success. Mrs Feilen commented, ‘Here at Heathfield we are passionate about supporting every girl in meeting her personal ambitions and goals and equipping her for her future workplace.’  Every year students are accepted at top choice universities, such as the London College of Fashion, Central St Martins, and Parsons New York, while notable alumni include model Amber Le Bon, fashion designer Tamara Mellon and the late British patron of fashion and art Isabella Blow. ‘As early as GCSE, the Art Department at Heathfield starts to prepare students for Art College and working in creative industries where they need to be able to articulate and rationalise their intentions. A key component of this is helping students to understand why they have made creative choices and to ‘tap in’ to the subconscious drives behind their art making. This approach really resonated with Stephen who discussed with the students the need to find one’s purpose and sense of direction in order to succeed in Fashion.’  Summing up his experience of working with Heathfield students Stephen said, ‘I hope to share knowledge and excitement that inspires creativity. I believe that one should explore new ideas, push boundaries, in order to make a difference and constantly challenge ourselves to be better.’ 

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The legacy of Donald Hughes

Sarah Ritchie celebrates a great Headmaster Each year a sea of new faces arrives at school, ready to take their first steps into being part of our thriving community. Then, at the end of each year, we say goodbye to a number of individuals who are leaving us to enter the next chapter of their lives. This is the nature of life in a school, and whether we are welcoming or bidding farewell to pupils or staff, our population is constantly evolving. We like to think that everyone who passes through our school leaves their mark behind – their own unique part of our story. Every now and then, however, schools are lucky enough to have someone in their world who leaves a legacy for many years to come. Donald Wynn Hughes was born in Southport in 1911. He was educated at The Perse School, Cambridge, and became a Scholar of Emmanuel College, gaining a First in English. He went on to become Senior English Master and a Housemaster at The Donald Hughes Leys School (1935-46) before moving to North Wales to become Headmaster of Rydal School in Colwyn Bay. Donald Hughes quickly earned the respect of the Common Room, and of the boys in his care. His enthusiastic interest in all areas of school life helped to strengthen the community, and whether he is remembered pacing the touch line at rugby matches, enjoying a cricket match or teaching English in the classroom (he never taught fewer than 15 lessons a week), he is remembered with great affection and appreciation. During the 21 years he was Headmaster of Rydal School he touched the lives of a huge number of people. I have had the pleasure of talking to several Old Boys about him, and it is not uncommon for them, even now, to have a tear in their eye as they reminisce. They talk about a great teacher, with an ability to stimulate the mind and illuminate his subject for pupils of all abilities, of his concern for others, his keen sense of humour, his selflessness, his wisdom and his faith. He was respected and approachable, and held in high regard as both a Headmaster and a friend. We are told that in discussions with prefects, ‘he seemed to be seeking your advice but was really offering you his.’ This was a man who, during the formal opening ceremony for the newly built swimming pool in 1964, removed his jacket and shoes and jumped in the water. What better way to declare a swimming pool open than Head first!


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He was a talented writer, and in my office I have a box full of his handwritten notes, sermons, speeches, and many poems and humorous verses, often jotted down on the back of a school compliment slip or whatever scrap of paper he had to hand when inspiration struck. The Batsman’s Bride, ‘a kind of respectful parody of the immortal Gilbert and Sullivan’, with music by Percy Heywood, was performed on the BBC in 1955 and again in 1980, and is still in the repertoire of amateur operatic societies. The great G&S commentator, Ian Bradley, has a high regard for the piece, not least because it marked his first appearance on stage, at prep school in 1961. Donald Hughes was a gifted speaker and was much in demand at conferences. He spoke and wrote with authority on education and was greatly valued by fellow Headteachers. Sir Desmond Lee, Headmaster of Winchester and three times Chairman of HMC, wrote a clearly heartfelt foreword to Percy Heywood’s Memoir, Donald Hughes Headmaster. Despite the fact that their paths crossed largely at conferences and meetings, not always opportunities to get to know people well, ‘the sharp edge and pungency’ of Donald’s interventions were memorable. ‘He was not, he said, a good Committee man; but he was extremely good for those committees on which he served.’ ‘Above all he was a person. Personality is an elusive thing … but some indication of the value his colleagues placed on him is given by the invitation extended to him to allow his name to go forward for election as Chairman of the Conference for 1968.’ His reasons for refusing no doubt included some reservations about the nature of this post, but ‘his own doubts about his health and his Doctor’s categorical negative could not be gainsaid, and were sadly confirmed by his accident and death. It was characteristic that he described that accident by saying that, feeling unwell, he pulled into a lay-by and ‘forgot to stop’. His ability to laugh at all things, including himself, was an integral part of him, and of the affection in which he was held by others.’ On the last day of the Summer Term in 1967, Donald Hughes delivered a sermon to the school, closing with the words, ‘It is within the power of us all to realise our true selves, not by greed and self-seeking, but in the service of our God

Teachers and of our fellow men.’ His sudden death during the Summer holidays that followed was a shock to the Rydal family, as well as to the wider educational community. Tributes flooded in, not just from staff, pupils and parents, but also from fellow Headteachers and the Methodist Church. Many Old Boys can tell you the exact moment that they heard the news, such was the shock and impact that it had. Donald Hughes was an incredible Head, and an incredible man, and he was a major figure in the local area. Outside school he became a Justice of the Peace, was Chairman of the Colwyn Bay Rotary Club, President of the North Wales Cricket Association and a member of the local Hospital Management Committee. He was also an active member of the Liberal party, then a significant force in North Wales. But his greatest influence was in the school. Many Heads will be familiar with occasions where parents have entered their study to discuss their financial situation. Perhaps the family has fallen on hard times, businesses are in trouble, or there are health problems which have led to them struggling to pay the fees. It may be that they are at the point where they have to withdraw their child from the school. These were the days before the school had a bursary or hardship fund, but Donald Hughes would often find a way to ensure that the child could continue to be educated at Rydal. It was only after

his death that it became known that he had, in fact, been paying the fees for these boys out of his own pocket, enabling them to complete their studies at the school and to go on to achieve their ambitions. Put simply, Donald Hughes changed lives. In 1970 a fund was set up in his name to continue the benevolent work that he started, and the school, now known as Rydal Penrhos School, has recently launched a fundraising campaign to raise £1 million for bursaries in recognition of him and to honour his vision that no child should miss out on the opportunity to have an outstanding education. Donald Hughes left his mark in more ways than one. His legacy continues, not just within the walls of Rydal Penrhos, but in the lives of those who knew him, whether they were pupils, staff, members of the Methodist congregation or fellow Heads and educationalists. His legacy lives on in those who benefited so greatly from his quiet generosity, and now in those who are inspired to continue to support others in his name. This is perhaps best summed up by a Governor, who wrote in 1967, ‘I do not grieve for Donald. The School will be his best memorial. He has lived for it and in many ways he will continue to live in it during the years to come.’ Sarah Ritchie is Alumni and Development Director at Rydal Penrhos School

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Can a new school building directly impact academic results?

Antonia Berry reflects on the widespread benefits of a major project I recall sitting at the back of my Maths classroom, a typical angst-ridden teenager, etching some tortured declaration of love into the chipped wooden desk. I remember swinging on my cracked plastic tub chair paying little heed to Mr Needson’s trigonometry demonstration on the grubby whiteboard. The room is like all the others in the school – fit for purpose (just). It can house thirty or so desks. The décor is tired but passable. A couple of ceiling tiles have slipped out of place. A collection of posters displaying ‘motivational’ quotes about the value of hard work are stuck to the walls with Blu Tack. At other points in the room, evidence of posters removed can be seen where the paint is stripped away to plaster in Blu Tack shaped splodges. Windows, stiff with age, are wedged open a crack where possible. The room is stuffy and hot and I am struggling to think of anything other than dreamy Richard Patterson in the year above me. A couple of decades on and I am Depute Rector of St Columba’s School, one of the highest achieving schools in Scotland, watching from the front row the impact that a well-designed, well maintained teaching space has on the concentration, behaviour and learning of young people and wondering why some headteachers and LEAs of years gone by have failed to recognise this. In the Independent sector particularly, the maintenance of school buildings, many often listed, can be a millstone


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around the Board of Governors’ neck, a black hole into which money is sunk with few visible benefits to pupils. Committing to spending millions on the purchase and renovation of new buildings can be an even more daunting business: a tough sell to the parents on whom a capital levy will inevitably have to be placed; a challenging negotiation with local residents and neighbours; a long and time-consuming planning process. For many schools, significant investment in buildings and classroom design is a risk that is simply not worth taking, but for those who have the vision and the courage to commit to making that vision a reality, the reward for pupils and teachers can be immeasurable. It is two years since St Columba’s opened its state-of-theart teaching facility, The Girdwood Building, named after the school’s last Rector, David Girdwood. It has been two years of teaching and learning in the thirteen new classrooms, of tailored pastoral care in the Guidance Suite, of quiet reflective reading and study in the new library, and it is time to consider whether it has all been worth it. The School long ago purchased two detached Victorian houses that sat adjacent to the school grounds, Kilmorack and Cromdale (one slightly worse for wear), and employed Page\Park Architects in Glasgow to design a new School building that would fit seamlessly into the School campus and the beautiful stone-built village of Kilmacolm. Externally


the end result, completed by Burnett Bell Architects, is truly exquisite: Kilmorack and Cromdale have been preserved and restored, painted in brilliant white, with fringe details, such as bargeboards and door surrounds, decorated in slate grey. The two buildings, mirrored almost exactly, are connected by sandy coloured open brickwork and walls of glass. To the rear of each villa a collection of classrooms projects backwards, housed in the same glass and exposed brickwork exterior. From above, the shape is one of a giant angular horse shoe, softened by the green roof on the single storey new build which has a Sedum covering incorporating five types of moss. Inside, the overwhelming effect is one of space and light created by the length (40 metres) and width of The Walk which serves as the spine of the building and  which is supported by two large clerestory windows and floor-to-ceiling windows at intervals. Each classroom has a ‘teaching wall’, in which speakers are recessed, cabling hidden and all the pupils’ books and teachers’ marking shut away. Each classroom has a CO2 monitoring unit that informs the teacher of the air quality throughout the lesson. Ventilation can be controlled by opening the high clerestory windows through motorised openers operated at ground level. The teacher can control the light in the room through a versatile black-out blind system and dimmer switches, fitted as standard. In the Library, entirely open planned with no doors, an acoustic ceiling reflects an acoustic floor covering and the space is set off by a stunning ‘halo light’ effect. Hardwearing, high-end furniture has been selected in a soft-toned colour palette to match the soft furnishings in the rest of the building. A number of rooms share an acoustic wall which can be set back to bring two classrooms together into one larger teaching or event space that can seat eighty people. The building houses the English Faculty, the Languages Faculty and Transitus – the top year of our Junior School, who enjoy the privilege of being early entrants to the Senior School.

Each faculty is colour coded: English, for example, displays a series of nine portraits of writers selected by staff and pupils, in gilt frames on a brilliant royal blue wall (their faculty colour). Pupils contributed to the design of desks and the selection of colours used in bathrooms and public spaces and the images on the glass frosting of the changing room doors. Photographs of pupils in classrooms, on the sports fields or receiving their exam results are printed on large canvases and displayed in public areas. It is a space that celebrates achievement and demands the very best from those who use it. And the pupils’ verdict? Harry Kellock in SV was explicit in talking about his ‘improved focus’ and he is not alone. Finlay Cooper in SVI, said he ‘feels like he can breathe. It is so spacious. I feel alert.’ Almost every pupil asked commented on the space and light and the impact this has had on their concentration levels. Hannah Findlater, SVI, explained how the building ‘almost feels as if it has changed the relationship between staff and pupils. There is a renewed sense of respect, not just for our surroundings but for each other.’ The reallocation of space has made the school feel much more cohesive. As Mark Connolly, SVI, commented, ‘The new layout and design has really given each department an identity. You feel as if when you take English or French you become an advocate or ambassador for that subject. You are proud to take it.’ In terms of academic achievement, it is difficult to establish a causal link between exam results and the effect of our new building; perhaps the fact that English and Languages were two of the highest achieving faculties this year is just coincidence. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the quality of the teaching and learning experience has been directly influenced by the quality of this extraordinary building design. Antonia Berry is Depute Rector at St Columba’s School

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The Campaign

OR Houseman discovers that old soldiers never die, they just manage In the final Common Room meeting of last term, the headmaster announced new appointments for the following academic year. This included a new position, or at least, a new title: Development Director. It became clear to all who had been at the school for five years or more that the Development Director would be doing the work previously done by the Campaign Manager. The Headmaster did not deny this, but explained the change of title. ‘The Development Director will be doing much more than the Campaign Manager, whose task was essentially to raise money to fund new capital projects.’ The Headmaster listed the other roles to be carried out by the Development Director. ‘Unlike the Campaign Manager, the Development Director will be much more involved in day to day school life, and so he will be a member of the Senior Management Team, working closely with me, the Deputy Headmaster and the Bursar.’ The Headmaster did not say whether the Development


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Director would be working closely with another member of the Senior Management Team, the Director of Admissions. It was quite clear that he had one vital role: to raise money to fund capital projects. For at least twenty years it had been generally accepted that the school theatre was outdated, too small and inferior to those of all of our rival schools. In fact, it was more than inferior, since other schools no longer had simple theatres: they now had Performing Arts Centres. For a similar length of time it has been widely acknowledged that the sports centre and indoor pool complex, though enviously ‘state of the art’ in the late 1970s are ‘tired and inadequate’. The longest serving Head of Department, the Head of Mathematics, has said, throughout his tenure in charge, that the maths classrooms are in a disgraceful state and practically unfit for purpose. Last year the Deputy Head (Pastoral) warned the Headmaster that the bathrooms and kitchens in several boarding houses pose Health and Safety risks which could potentially lead to the closure of the school at the next Ofsted inspection, and that major refurbishment of every boarding house is therefore an absolute priority. In recent years the school’s nearest local rivals have built two new water-based AstroTurf hockey pitches. Another competitor has a new cricket pavilion, and yet another has a spectacular new ‘STEM’ centre, which, apparently, was not only the envy of Bill Gates, but must have required a budget accessible only to Bill Gates. In the school facilities arms race we were clearly falling behind. We had to build something, and soon, or no self-respecting parents would possibly consider sending their children to us. This was why we needed a Development Director, to do some of the work previously done by the Campaign Manager, but also to play a much more active role in school life, of course. There had been two Campaign Managers since that role was created five years ago. The first Campaign Manager was introduced to the Common Room at the start of a new academic year

Schools as the Headmaster outlined the school’s plans for new capital projects. The priority was a new Performing Arts Centre, and he was confident that with a managed campaign, as opposed, presumably, to some other sort of campaign, we would raise the funds to finance this project and have a new Performing Arts Centre within two years. The Campaign Manager instantly made a positive impression. An old boy of the school, he had acquired a socially acceptable third class degree and two rowing blues at Oxford, and then enjoyed a career in the Scots Guards which involved more ceremonial duties at St James’s Palace than it did tours of Afghanistan. He did spend three months in Northern Ireland, after which a career change took him comfortably into the City. This background put him at a confident ease within his new environment, and he made himself a very popular figure in the Common Room, with plenty of entertaining anecdotes about his previous careers, including modest references to Northern Ireland, and discreet hints at convivial regimental dinners with minor royalty. He also made a point of communicating freely with the Common Room about his approach to the Campaign. This involved identifying rich old boys and parents and taking them out for expensive lunches. The Campaign Manager explained that it was very important never to mention money on these occasions, as such vulgarity would almost certainly deter potential donors. The purpose behind the lunches was simply to establish warm, friendly relations, to organise followup lunches, and then wait. He waited a couple of years before the school Accountant identified exactly how much money had been spent on expensive lunches, and how much money had actually been donated to the Campaign. The new Performing Arts Centre, like the sports hall, maths classrooms, boarding house facilities, hockey pitches and STEM centre, looked further away than ever. We saw no more of the former Guards officer and the position of Campaign Manager was advertised. The second Campaign Manager was another old boy of the school who had just retired from the Foreign Office. I had met him on several occasions during my time at the school and had always enjoyed his urbane, erudite and modest company. I remember the conversation in which he told me he had been approached to run the Campaign. He quite openly admitted that he had no idea why. ‘I’ve told everyone,’ he said to me, ‘the Headmaster, the governors, all of them. I have absolutely no idea how to go about asking people for money. I told them that even if they offered me the position I would refuse to draw a salary because I don’t believe I can raise a penny.’ Clearly charmed by this self-deprecating, and cheap, approach, the Headmaster and Governors confidently believed that this time they had found the right man. They gave him the job, and he accepted it. It turned out that he was indeed modest, but also right: he had no idea how to raise money from rich donors. He came to a housemasters’ meeting shortly after his appointment. ‘You chaps may be able to help here. Perhaps you could glance through your house lists and let me know of any parents who are particularly rich. I shall then try to think of a way to approach them subtly, without making them think I am after their money.’ I identified a parent of a boy in my House who could be a potential source: Mr Q, a prominent businessman in South East Asia who was about to enter politics.

‘Sounds just the sort of man I am looking for,’ the Campaign Manager said. ‘How can I meet him?’ ‘Well, he is rarely in the country, but this is his son’s final year at school and I think he will be attending the Leavers’ Service at the end of the summer term. Perhaps that could be your chance.’ On the basis of this and similar comments from other housemasters, our man from the FO persuaded the Headmaster to hold a garden party after the Leavers’ Service. He thought this would be the ideal opportunity for him to approach rich, satisfied parents and suggest that they might like to make a contribution towards the Campaign, to celebrate their son’s successful five years at school. With this scheme in mind the Campaign Manager clearly decided there was nothing more to do but wait, and we did not see him again until the Headmaster’s garden party on Leavers’ Day. All housemasters also attended the garden party. While chatting to some parents of boys leaving my house, I noticed the Campaign Manager appear from behind a bush in a white linen suit. He indicated that he wanted to talk to me, inconspicuously. I began to wonder exactly what he had done in the Foreign Office. ‘I’ve spotted an Asian-looking chap with a large retinue near the fountain. Is that Q?’ he whispered, looking over his shoulder as he did so. I looked towards the fountain. ‘No. That’s Mr L. But he is very rich too.’ I watched the Campaign Manager from the FO approach Mr L and the two seemed to enjoy a genial conversation for some minutes. I watched as they shook hands and Mr L joined another group of parents. The Campaign manager looked across at me and shook his head. Clearly no donation to the Campaign. Eventually Mr Q arrived and I was able to introduce him to the Campaign manager. Like Mr L, Mr Q was clearly charmed by the Campaign Manager’s easy manner developed after years of Diplomatic Service. Like Mr L, Mr Q contributed nothing to the campaign. However, when the second Campaign Manager quietly left to a permanent role at Whitehall to see him into his Civil Service pension he could legitimately claim to have been the most successful Campaign Manager in the school’s history: for the first time the balance of the Campaign had not made a loss during a manager’s tenure. At the first meeting of term the Headmaster introduced the Development Director to the Common Room: a former art dealer from South Carolina. He said a little about himself and his role at the school. ‘My role will be very different from that of your Campaign Managers. I am American. I am not embarrassed about asking rich people to hand over their money.’ The headmaster resumed his start of term address to the Common Room with notice of his planned absences from school. ‘Next weekend I shall be in Dubai meeting the old boys, current parents and perspective parents out there. The Development Director and the Director of Admissions will be accompanying me,’ he announced. ‘Work on the new Performing Arts Centre will begin at the start of the summer holidays.’ He, at least, seemed confident that we are back in the arms race.

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Moreton Hall: a non-selective, no rules approach to education Caroline Lang describes a self-confessed and successful anomaly

Tucked away in an often overlooked corner of Shropshire, with Housman’s ‘blue remembered hills’ to the south and the Welsh mountains on the horizon in the North, Moreton Hall is proud to be something of an anomaly: a thriving girls only (in the senior years) school which despite an essentially non-selective approach holds its own academically, musically, theatrically and on the sports pitches amongst the UK’s top schools. Established in 1913 by the Lloyd-Williams family, the Moreton Hall philosophy has always been that of a liberal education where academic success and extra-curricular achievement are equally valued. It’s a philosophy that has been at the heart of the leadership of Moreton Hall Principal, Jonathan Forster, who retires this summer after 27 years at the helm of the HMC school. The school’s belief in nurturing the talents of every girl, wherever those talents lie, goes hand in hand with a nonselective approach. Non-selective means looking beyond an 11+, 13+ or 16+ examination paper, to discover the unique young person who with nurturing and encouragement will learn to play to her own strengths and will leave school confident of her place in the world. Taster Days, Admissions Days, school tours led by the school’s finest ambassadors, the girls themselves,


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ensure that each girl joining Moreton Hall arrives wanting to be a success and wanting to be part of the Moreton family. Jonathan Forster believes that every member of the school’s extensive staff has a part to play in what is essentially a journey. ‘Teachers, housemistresses, everyone who works at Moreton, must want to work with young people. They need to understand that children are not the ‘finished article’ – they have a marathon 14 years at school to complete a journey from childhood to adulthood. So if we stumble a bit on this marathon, we need to know that someone will put us back on our feet and point us to the finish line, or even help us over it. That’s what education is for – leading people, children and young people from childhood to adulthood, ensuring that young people have all the skills and qualifications and confidence they need to embark upon adult life.’ The principle of a non-selective approach lies at the heart of Sixth Form admissions too. Once a Moretonian always a Moretonian, and a bespoke sixth form programme ensures that unlike many schools where additional GCSE entrance requirements are imposed, every girl who has studied GCSEs at the school is welcomed into Moreton Sixth. Sixth Form also sees many new faces, including students

Schools from a local state school, St Martin’s. Working with Moreton Hall’s STEM department, year 10 and 11 students from St Martin’s are offered stretch, challenge and support, and a number of the St Martin’s girls join Moreton Sixth on generous bursaries and scholarships. The girls acknowledge it as a life changing opportunity and as one young woman explained it to me, ‘when I arrived here I wouldn’t have believed I could even apply to a Russell Group University like Durham, but today I turned down Durham because I’m accepting LSE!’ But it’s not just the ‘every girl matters’ approach which makes Moreton Hall special. Ask any Moreton girl the secret of the Moreton magic and she will tell you that ‘we have no rules’. Of course, every community has rules, but as Jonathan Forster describes it ‘the school is known for being small, friendly and open, not cluttered by petty rules, but with a clear set of values agreed upon and respected by all members of the school community.’ At Moreton Hall that lack of petty rules means that there are no bells, no detentions, no loss of privileges. Despite that, lessons start on time, preps are completed, dorms are tidied, and people are kind to each other! In truth the metaphor for the Moreton Hall ‘no rules approach’ can be found on the Lacrosse fields. This term, Moreton Hall’s first and second teams made the last eight at The Nationals in Aldershot, whilst the Under 14s, returned to Shropshire victorious, crowned national champions for their age group. Interviewed on Radio Shropshire, their coach, Louise Lewin described lacrosse as a game with ‘not too many restrictions in terms of rules. It’s kind of fast and free flowing.’

Under 14s goalie, Iris explained to the bemused presenter that there are ‘hardly any rules, there’s lots of activity and it’s lots of fun.’ In summing up, she could have been summing up Moreton Hall and its philosophy. ‘It can be tough mentally ... but it’s very teamy ... you build relationships – you enjoy every second of it.’ Caroline Lang is Senior Tutor and Registrar at Moreton Hall

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GDPR and schools Richard Harrold reflects on a year of data protection The GDPR bill became law a year ago this May and it has made a massive difference to the working practices in school. Until it came into law, the most scandalous infringements of privacy were being carried out by large corporate companies. They had absolutely no incentive to do anything about it because it wasn’t in their commercial interests to do so. While designed to protect consumers, with the ability to fine a company four percent of its global revenue for data breaches, the law has also given schools an understandable and achievable way to protect themselves, their staff and students. However, schools can feel that GDPR has created a rod for their backs, because of the huge amount of work it involves. Setting up good, compliant systems, and keeping them refreshed and up to date, is an enormous task, there is no doubt. But the real

While designed to protect consumers, with the ability to fine a company four percent of its global revenue for data breaches, the law has also given schools an understandable and achievable way to protect themselves, their staff and students. reason many schools can feel that GDPR has created more work is because in the past few years the number of Subject Access Information requests has gone up tenfold. This is where an individual, usually a member of staff or student, past or present, can request to be sent all the personal information held about them. The information has to sent within thirty days of the request being made. These can use up an horrendous amount of time, but having good GDPR systems in place can actually help. For example, the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) publishes advice on how long you need to keep different types of information. Student records only need to be kept for seven years after they’ve left school. Schools should delete the records after this and keep a record that they have done so, because otherwise if they hold the data and a student asks to see it, the school has to provide it. If schools keep everything, they are taking a big risk. We tell all our graduates that we won’t have any information about them once they turn 25. When they leave, we give them their records and tell them to look after them! Other specific information has to be kept for longer, such as medical data; fabric 24

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issues, such as asbestos or radioactive incident records; or health and safety and child protection data. Requirements for each will be described by the IRMS but of particular note is any data which might pertain to child abuse. Under The Goddard Inquiry terms, all organisations have to keep information while the inquiry is ongoing which is likely to be at least another decade. The IRMS is a great and underused resource for ensuring you know exactly what you should keep and what you can and should destroy (keeping a record, ironically, that you have done so.) The Department for Education’s Data Protection Toolkit for Schools is an excellent resource too. As an international school where children and staff come and go from all parts of the world, it is especially important that we have our house in order. If we leave the EU without a deal there could be GDPR implications. At the moment, for example, if a student leaves to go to another country in the European Economic Area (EEA) such as France, we hand over the data to the school, confident the data will be handled securely. We would not do the same if a student went to some areas of the Middle East, where countries don’t hold the same laws or values as us. Suppose the student was LGBT, the data could be very dangerous for them. If we leave without an agreement from the EU, in theory we are a country which is outside their law and legally their data cannot be shared with us. This is just one extra thing to bear in mind that is new since last year. Another area where GDPR has created change within schools is the subject of consent or contracts in using photos and images. The age of consent for data is thirteen, twelve in Scotland. A parent can say yes, they don’t mind if the child is photographed, but the child has to say yes. This is why many schools are now opting for a contract rather than consent. Schools have to ensure they are not caught in the crossfire between parents and children. Consent could be given by phone, on email or on a slip of paper. But that consent from the child or parent could be withdrawn at any time. You might have printed your school brochure and paid thousands of pounds for it when consent is withdrawn and suddenly you can’t use it. A contract, signed by both parents, explains the terms of agreement to cover situations such as this. This is where GDPR, backed-up by good working practices, protects the school, and most admissions departments are now geared up for it. I recently attended the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) conference. The presence of so many different companies like Vodafone, Virgin and Arsenal Football Club, along with many schools shows just how important GDPR is for us all. A key message I came away with is that the ICO is not looking to punish schools and make life harder. It is trying to ensure we are all protected and managing our data in an informed and measured way. Dr Richard Harrold is Data Protection Officer at ACS International Schools


‘Good habits formed at youth make all the difference’ – Aristotle James Featherstone celebrates the soft-skills revolution

In the 1979 BBC documentary ‘Public School’, Dennis Silk, Warden of Radley College, said that a school’s main purpose is to help its pupils acquire ‘the right habits for life’. The best part of 40 years later, most of modern educational thinking seems to be agreeing with him. We are reminded frequently by political and social commentators of the increased importance that employers are placing on ‘soft skills’, terminology that with one bullishly ill-advised adjective undermines and undervalues the very point these commentators and employers are making. Anthony Seldon made the headlines and, arguably, the first waves when he was Master of Wellington College with his Wellbeing Lessons, his insistence on ‘service’, and his school’s sectorleading focus on Character, Grit and Resilience. The founding of the UK-wide Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues (2012) and the rapid rise in in-house initiatives such as Failure Week (Wimbledon High School), Silent Retreat (Blundell’s), Bounce Week (Latymer Upper), RAK – Random Acts of Kindness Week (The Perse), all suggest pretty strongly that we are, as a sector and as a nation, becoming slightly less hesitant to agree with Professor James Arthur’s assertion (2013) that ‘character matters more than attainment’. There is a great deal of talk across the educational sectors about the quasi-impossible task facing schools today: as Richard Riley (US Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton) once put it, ‘We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…using technologies that haven’t yet been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet’. Terrific emphasis continues to be placed on the importance of STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Maths): the future is computer-based; educate children for that future.

And yet Andrew Pinsent, Research Director at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford, makes the point that from here on in anything that can be automated will be, and anything that can be run by/done by computers will be. This raises the question ‘what’s left for people at that point?’ to which his answer is ‘all the important stuff’. To think on that a little longer: in a world increasingly governed by and served by machines, the ‘soft skills’ (empathy, gentleness, emotional intelligence, manners, nuance, persuasion, social intelligence, kindness, subtlety of expression, interpretation of information, team work, leadership, self-reflection, self-awareness, resilience, perspective: in short, insight) are going to be more important than ever. Will Gompertz, the BBC’s Arts Editor, takes this line of thinking to its logical conclusion and makes the case for every school being an Arts School; because, he points out, everything else will end up being done by computers. As is usually the case with these things, there is a balance to be struck. Schools must embrace the use of technology as a learning and communication tool, and must recognise the importance of digital literacy in the lives and futures of their pupils. At Exeter Cathedral School we are pleased to have introduced Digital Wellbeing for our ten to thirteen year-olds. But schools must also be environments where ‘soft skills’ are highly valued, modelled, promoted and prized. As I have said before during my soap-box moments, the job of a really good school is to work with families to help pupils acquire the right values, habits and skills for life.

In a world increasingly governed by and served by machines, the ‘soft skills’ are going to be more important than ever. Silk, Seldon, Pinsent and Gompertz may all agree on what matters most, but none of these can claim to be the first to have thought of it. For that, we ought to turn back to Aristotle: ‘It is not unimportant, then, to acquire one sort of habit or another right from our youth; rather it is very important, indeed all important’. James Featherstone is Headmaster of Exeter Cathedral School

Summer 2019



Drawing out unique potential

Gareth Turnbull-Jones describes the process of building a culture of student wellbeing through Cognitive Coaching and outdoor education At the beginning of 2013, I heard about an opportunity to be part of a start-up school called Halcyon London International School. The school would be the only not for profit, co-educational and exclusively International Baccalaureate (IB) school in central London. The prospect was exciting and not the type of opportunity that often comes around. The key to my interest was in the mission of the school, which is ‘to provide an exceptional education that draws out the unique potential of each student’ (Halcyon, 2019a). In particular, the ‘unique potential’ aspect stood out to me. It left me with the question ‘how can a school ensure it provides the opportunity for its students to reach their unique potential?’ When Halcyon opened to students in September 2013, there were just 33 students ranging from year seven to ten. The small number of students was key to meeting our mission. We developed a number of structures to support their wellbeing, of which one was to provide a vertical form group structure that we called Advisories. This provided an opportunity for students from different grades to interact with each other, which was especially important with small class sizes. The structure enabled students to make more social connections and feel welcomed in the school. Another element of the programme was to dedicate one hour a week to personal learning. During this time, students could work on any project they wished, thus providing an opportunity for individualised learning and the development of autonomous skills. Students utilised this time for a diverse range of activities, from working on mosaics to learning their mother tongue language, from developing apps to learning to juggle. As Halcyon grew, it became clear that more formal and research informed structures needed to be applied to maintain the individuality of the student experience. After two years, the school created a Senior Leadership position in student wellbeing. When I began as Student Wellbeing Leader, I spent the first year exploring research, visiting and observing model practices and analysing ideas from within our community. A few key elements from this research informed the development of a wellbeing policy. These included Cognitive Coaching training, school visits, the work of Kurt Hahn and The Outward Bound Trust Training as a cognitive coach and learning about the research associated with improving the efficacy of organisations (Costa and Garmston, 2015; Edwards, 2018) helped to provide the backbone to the policy. It was clear that in order to support a young person’s wellbeing, one must create an environment and culture that develops the skills to enable them to be self-


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directed learners and critical thinkers. The practice of Cognitive Coaching can support this by developing active listening and meditative questioning skills. Through visiting other schools, it became evident that one-to-one relationships would allow Halcyon to have the framework to cognitively coach the students through their learning and social development and provide each student with their own personal staff advocate. One of the final pieces of developing the wellbeing policy connected to the outdoors. Whilst studying for an MA in International Education, I became an advocate of the work of Kurt Hahn. To gain a full understanding of his work, you should read Schools across Frontiers (Peterson, 2003), but, briefly, Hahn believed that education should be holistic, that people should not stand by in the face of injustice, and that people should pursue their passion. Hahn was influential in driving these ideals in education. With others, he founded several organisations that promote these beliefs, two of which were already being used at Halcyon - the International Baccalaureate and The Outward Bound Trust. The next steps would be to create with the Trust a continuum of outdoor learning that would support the structures used within the school. The aim of this outdoor programme would be to develop key affective skills (emotional management, perseverance, resilience, mindfulness and motivation) that would be important for developing selfdirection and supporting the wellbeing of students. After a year of exploration, a student wellbeing policy was put into place. The policy is wide-ranging (figure 1.) and by putting wellbeing at the heart of what we do it helps to frame conversations and decisions in all aspects of school life.

Figure 1. The multiple-facets covered within Halcyon’s Student Wellbeing Policy (Halcyon, 2019b)


There are three key areas that the policy supports: • Student Advocacy: Developing skills in participation, accountability, political literacy, open-mindedness and tolerance. • Cognitive Coaching & Mentoring: Finding time to give and receive attention, to develop listening skills, to reflect and consolidate experience and to build meaning and purpose from our experiences. • Student Leadership: Providing opportunities to develop decision-making, communication skills and the negotiation of ideas, offering a real autonomy and control in key areas of school life. (Halcyon, 2017) It is important to note that the Cognitive Coaching and Mentoring has been vital in supporting the mission and enabling students to reach their unique potential. All staff are cognitive coach trained, developing skills in active listening, paraphrasing, meditative questioning, goal setting, reflecting and problem resolving. Each student is given a staff mentor and spends four hours every two weeks with their mentor. During this time students receive a 15-minute one-to-one coaching conversation and spends the additional time either working on a passion of theirs or developing service learning projects. This programme has improved upon the initial programmes set up by the school and has supported student wellbeing through the connections made between mentors and students. Within the Student Wellbeing Policy, outdoor education was given a specific role in student development. The aims of Halcyon’s outdoor residential programmes are to support the affective competencies of the individual and to develop collaboration and their role in the Halcyon community. With the support of Outward Bound, we developed a programme of outdoor education that becomes progressively more challenging as the students get older. Our programme runs from year seven to twelve with the students returning yearly to The Trust. The programme culminates with a week trip at the start of year twelve, during which students work on their leadership skills to support them in becoming leaders in our community, and includes a two-day expedition led by the students. Our students have benefited

significantly from their experiences on their residential trips. Outward Bound has supported us in creating a cohesive cohort of students, which is very important in student wellbeing when considering a culture of agency and leadership. Halcyon is now six years old and has 180 students. Our work in student wellbeing has been paramount to the success of the school in striving towards its mission. Students are listened to and supported, enabling them to fearlessly seek their passions and achieve their unique potential. There have been a number of success stories, including students who have previously refused to attend other schools who are now flourishing in our environment and going on to study at university. When I reflect on the outdoor residentials there are many key moments, including sitting on top of Cader Idris with the sensational backdrop of the Llyn Peninsula, listening to student reflections on their perseverance. It is always inspiring to see students support each other in stepping out of their comfort zone, whether it be canoeing on the Dyfi Estuary, completing a gorge walk or scaling a mountain. The skills and strategies they learn and develop on the outdoor residential trips support them when they return to school and enable them to cope and flourish, whatever challenges may come their way. Gareth Turnbull-Jones is Student Wellbeing Support at Halcyon London International School, London and future Headteacher at Landmark International School, Cambridge References Costa, Arthur L., and Robert J. Garmston. Cognitive Coaching: Developing SelfDirected Leaders and Learners. United States: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 31 July 2015. Edwards, Jenny. Cognitive Coaching: A Synthesis of the Research. United States: Thinking Collaborative, January 2018. Halcyon London International School. Accessed: 25 March 2019a. Halcyon London International School. Accessed: 25 March 2019b. Halcyon London International School. Student Wellbeing Policy. United Kingdom: Halcyon London International School, 2017. Peterson, Alexander D. C., and Prince of Wales Charles. Schools across Frontiers: The Story of the International Baccalaureate and the United World Colleges. United States: Open Court Publishing Co, U.S., 1 May 2003.

Summer 2019



Getting the most from your data analysis

Sue Macgregor identifies the best use of data in the pre-exam weeks In the previous edition of Conference & Common Room, we provided a strategic overview of Alps and the benefits of using our system to track student progress across Key Stage 5. In this article, I will provide more practical insight into how school leaders and subject staff might use their Alps analysis in the final weeks before the examinations. It is never too late to take a fresh look at data to identify where critical interventions may make the difference for some students between two different grades and, ultimately, to their University offers. Alps is a leading analysis and performance improvement system for schools and colleges at KS5 and KS4. We provide analysis on A level examinations, generated from the full national dataset published by the DfE, through our endof-year reports or online in Connect Interactive. The latter allows all staff within the school or college to access and interact with progress data for their subject or teaching set online. Importantly, the most powerful application of Connect Interactive is in the analysis of in-year tracking or monitoring data, allowing teachers to see student progress against the national dataset in real time. Alps analysis is based on ensuring that all students are set aspirational and challenging targets, inspiring them to realise their full potential. At this time of year, teaching staff efforts turn towards the final preparations for the A level examinations. All content teaching should be complete, and the main focus will be on the revision of knowledge and understanding, and in ensuring that all students have mastered the skills necessary to access examination questions. This is particularly true of the young people who have the ability to attain the top grades. The classroom teacher must ensure that their students understand the demands of the A grade questions and how to structure their answers to attain high marks. Of course, the strategies that make the difference will always come down to learning and teaching intervention in the classroom, but it is worth considering the part that some last-minute data analysis can play in ensuring that teachers are informed about which students or groups of students would benefit from the different strategies they might employ. The remainder of this article therefore focuses on practical data analysis and the impact this might have on teacher planning. We should consider the type of data that might best support us at this point. Ideally, all students would have carried out a mock examination in their subject. If not, perhaps it is not too late to consider this. The paper should be carefully constructed to include the range of assessment objectives used in the final papers and should allow teachers and students to identify gaps in their knowledge or in their ability to interpret questions.


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The results from these internal tests can now be used as the basis for an analysis point in Connect Interactive. If these were to be the grades that the students achieved on Results Day, would they have fulfilled their potential? Would they have gained the grades necessary to get into their first choice university course? If not, then there is time to intervene and support. Connect Interactive has a range of tools that allows teachers to identify and model how improvements to progress grades affect their own subject ratings and crucially affect the life chances of their students. In addition, it can highlight gaps in progress between key groups of students, allowing an insight into how teaching methodologies might impact on different young people. For example, the students who are your high prior attainers – have they gained the top grades in these internal examinations – if not why not? Is it down to gaps in their understanding, a lack of skill mastery or a lack of awareness of the difference in what an A grade answer looks like compared to that of a B grade? Importantly, analysing in-year progress data in Connect Interactive allows school and college leaders to ask critical questions of teaching staff on progress trends. This can provide a guide as to how resources are distributed across the curriculum and whether there needs to be a change in strategy. The ability to ask searching questions through one-to-one meetings with all subject leads following a data input point is key in the prioritisation of resources. Skilled leaders will find creative solutions to ensure that this happens fairly and is of benefit to students and staff. Such awareness of issues arising from an in-depth analysis of data means that school leaders can be more effective in the lead up to the examinations. They will better understand the types of activities that they should be seeing in classrooms are they walk around the school or college. Are they visiting Sixth Form lessons to check that revision is structured and focused on the issues identified? Are assemblies used effectively as opportunities to motivate and inspire students on how to get the most out of themselves? And are teaching staff similarly inspired and motivated to pull out all the stops to ensure that their students are the most informed that they can be about what they will face in their examination papers, and how to translate all their hard work into grades that do them credit? Sue Macgregor is Senior Educational Consultant at Alps For more information on Alps or to contact us, visit

Jo blogs


David Tuck introduces the Stamford Endowed School digital student voice

In September 2017, I launched a digital blog based on the premise of Edward Norton’s famous ‘rule’ in the film Fight Club: ‘The first rule of the blog is that only students are allowed to blog on it’. Admittedly, the cultural reference was lost on many of the students, but the idea was serious enough: it was their space. Over two hundred students have contributed to almost five hundred separate blog posts, whilst the HMI eulogised about the opportunities for pupil voice when the school was inspected. The blog itself has been viewed over 15, 000 times and has its own twitter handle with over four hundred followers, predominantly parents. This article will discuss how blogging supports creative writing, as well as facilitating independent learning and pupil voice. What does student blogging achieve? Educational research shows that student motivation increases if they have the opportunity and freedom to use their imagination to generate their ideas (Morton-Standish 2014). A blog’s open-ended structure compliments this and encourages both inclusiveness and exclusiveness. In the early weeks of the blog the most common misconception students had was that it was an academic vehicle for scholars and, rather depressingly, that no-one would be interested in anything they had to say. This was frustrating, as we had worked hard in giving the blog a positive launch, but not surprising when one looked at educational research. Renwick

(2017) has argued that the unintended consequence of academic competitiveness within a school is that it can reduce overall engagement amongst those who do not consider themselves the most able. Winning the hearts and minds of the students became crucial, as it could easily have withered on the vine in those first few weeks. Lenhart (2008) has argued that students are motivated to write when they have the choice of topics and when the writing is relevant to their interests. It was therefore necessary to alter the initial perceptions of the students, so in the early weeks of the blog I relied on colleagues acting as cheerleaders, cajoling and encouraging students to try blogging. Once students overcame their fears, and more importantly when the blog started to accumulate interesting posts, attitudes altered. The slow trickle of blogs became a constant stream of incredibly varied content. Two years into the project, I no longer chase blogs, since students are constantly emailing me content to post. These cover an amazingly wide range: show-jumping; engineering; chemistry experiments; fashion tips; film reviews; poems; SXS Champion racing; blogs written entirely in French, Spanish, German and Chinese; and one from a student who is a stunt double on the Netflix show Free Rein and wanted to share his exciting experiences. A student blog has advantages over a school magazine in that it has unlimited capacity. So, whilst the big sporting, drama and music events are very well represented, so are the

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supposedly lesser ones: the epic U13D Rugby victory, all the minority sports, the lower school production that lives in the shadow of the big school production, all are recorded and remembered. Blogging confidently and for public consumption is not easy, and the blog’s inclusiveness means that younger students can build self-confidence and find their voice. For this digital generation of students, a blog that they have written can be easily shared via social media and for many has more intrinsic value than if it appeared in a school magazine. Moreover, it is a starting point for students to develop more ambitious and analytical styles of writing. At its most cerebral, the blog is a forum of unashamedly academic and creative endeavour and it has been a place to pilot our idea of students building digital portfolios. Renwick (2017) defines digital portfolios as online collections of learning artefacts that intentionally curate a student’s learning over time. The blog is being used in a pilot scheme with our academic scholars to help them develop a variety of blogs on different subjects. Like many schools we like the extended project for A-level students, but the blog offers opportunities for students to write shorter pieces of high quality on a regular basis. We want our Year 10 scholars to be producing at least one independently researched topic per term. Highlights so far have been: • A piece on the Venezuelan Crisis written entirely in Spanish. • Blogs on Quantum Physics. • The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport • A short history of the genetic alteration of animals. • An essay on antimicrobial resistance. UCAS applications for competitive courses demand that students articulate their academic/creative interests and we are increasingly seeing sixth-formers tagging a string of blogs within a digital link and then including them in a UCAS personal statement or in a letter of application for an apprenticeship. Our current Year 10 scholars will have blogged around ten of these pieces by the time they are applying to university. This should dramatically improve the quality of their personal statements but, more importantly, we are explicitly encouraging an intellectual inquisitiveness that goes beyond the examinations that they are studying. Two of our students have gone on to create their own blogs where they concentrate on their specific interests and nurturing this kind of initiative is where we see student blogging further down the line. 30

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As educationists we know that employers are looking for innovation, initiative and independence, and student blogging provides valuable scaffolding to support students in developing those skills. The initial feedback we have had from universities, employers and potential parents has been intensely positive, primarily because so few schools offer such an opportunity for their students. The SES blog has created opportunities for students to write creatively and is now the digital centre of student voice as well as being an evolving archive. For colleagues interested in setting up their own blog, I suggest a meeting with their GDPR Designated Officer to check that they are not contravening regulations or their school’s privacy policy. What is crucial is that the students perceive the blog as theirs; that only students (or alumni) can post; and that they decide the layout. My job is to check content and post. Overheads are low, we blog on the free edublogs platform that allows the school complete control over policy and content. I would also recommend coupling a school blog with a twitter account and sharing posts on your school’s existing social media as this draws into one’s audience students, parents, staff and, with a marketing eye, potential parents. Although blogging is not a new concept, only a tiny proportion of schools have a designated blogging space for their students. The communication revolution that we are living through is going to demand that the workers of the future are comfortable expressing their ideas and producing written work that informs, influences and persuades. Student blogging, lightly supervised by staff, allows students to develop skills that are vital for the future but that are not directly addressed on the formal curriculum. David Tuck is Head of Politics and Citizenship at Stamford Endowed School and SES Blog Co-ordinator. SES Blog website: SES Blog twitter: Stamford Endowed School student blogs website Bibliography Lenhart, A. (2008) Writing, technology and teens. Pew Internet and National Writing Commission. Morton-Standish, L. (2014) Using Online Media to write extended persuasive text. The Reading Teacher. Renwick (2017) Digital Portfolios in the Classroom, ASCD, USA.

Meet meat-free school meals


Nicky Adams celebrates environmentally friendly Felsted food

According to the United Nations, global animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined, and it was this fact that spurred Felsted School to introduce a monthly school lunch that is meat-free. ‘It’s not our intention to impose a vegetarian lifestyle on anyone,’ says catering manager René Hauret. ‘Asking around, it was obvious that many students – and staff for that matter – were unaware of the negative impact the global meat industry has on the environment. So we thought that if we could make even a small change at our school, at least we would be doing something to help.’ René, who has been at Felsted for the past four years and previously ran restaurants for Albert Roux, came up with the idea of offering a solely vegetarian lunch once every three weeks for the 150 staff and 750 students. ‘It was surprising to chat to students, particularly the boys, and find out that when they think of vegetarian food, all they think of is salads,’ says René. ‘I wanted to show them that not eating meat occasionally wouldn’t mean missing out on a filling meal and would make a big difference to the environment.’ According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the UK is the 22nd highest consumer of meat in the world, with each of us eating an average 85.8 kilograms per year. Raising animals for food requires significant amounts of land, energy and water. Around 40 percent of the food grown in the world today is feed for animals and this figure is expected to increase to 60 percent in the next 20 years with the emergence of an expanding global middle class with the means to buy and eat even more meat and dairy. ‘Meat-free days are becoming very popular around the world,’ says René. ‘Meat-free Mondays are quite established in Japan and just recently the mayor of New York has declared that every school in the city should serve a weekly meat-free meal. I felt it was time for Felsted to follow their lead.’ Even in René’s native France, there is a movement for restaurants to serve a weekly meat-free menu, so when asked to present new initiatives at the year’s first meeting of Felsted students’ Food Committee, he put forward a proposal for a Meat-free Tuesday. ‘Every lunchtime we offer a hot meal with a vegetarian option, a pasta dish, jacket potatoes and toppings and a salad bar, followed by a selection of hot and cold desserts and fruit,’ he says. ‘My plan was to remove meat from the menu completely for one lunchtime every three weeks – not often, but a regular occurrence to show how easy it is to forego meat once in a while.’ Food Committee representatives took the idea away to discuss with their school friends. While a good number were positive about the proposed change, the reaction from some was quite strong and a petition against it was even circulated. ‘My

own son is at the school and he told me that, although he was all for the idea of a Meat-free Tuesday, the rest of his boys’ boarding house was dead against it,’ says René. ‘I realised I would have to do some lobbying, to explain a bit more about what it would entail, so I sat down with the students at lunchtimes and supper times and reminded them that they would have the usual meat and vegetarian options at breakfast, supper and for the latenight snack and we would make sure that they would hardly notice there was no meat in their lunch. I reassured them that they would not leave the dining hall starving!’ With murmurings among the meat-eaters, opinions were clearly polarised throughout the school, so Felsted’s headmaster Chris Townsend decided to put the meat-free meal suggestion to a vote and ran a poll for every member of the school community – students, staff and parents – to have their say.

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‘I was surprised at the initial resistance, but very pleased with the outcome of the meat-free meal referendum,’ says René. ‘415 voted in favour, with 275 against, and 120 abstentions. This was a great turn-out and a big step forward for the school. Just to get people talking about food and the impact it has on the environment was an achievement, and I was determined to show that a meat-free meal could work.’ The headmaster was happy to introduce the initiative based on the majority. ‘Certainly there is a global challenge about sustainability that needs to be addressed,’ he says. ‘I am impressed that our students are sufficiently aware of this and

‘Just to get people talking about food and the impact it has on the environment was an achievement, and I was determined to show that a meat-free meal could work.’ want to make a difference. Felsted is a member of the Round Square organisation of 200 schools around the world, so global awareness is a key aim of the education we offer here. We don’t want our students to be bystanders, we want them to get involved.’ With the monthly meat-free meal now firmly on the menu, the headmaster, René and the head chef set about considering appropriate dishes. ‘The headmaster wanted us to use imagination,’ says René. ‘A vegetable ragout would not


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be enough!’ The first Meat-free Tuesday kicked off with a Malaysian Quorn curry and rice, with a beetroot, halloumi cheese and roasted vegetable wrap as an alternative. No ham appeared on the salad bar; instead, eggs and cheese. ‘The pasta bar was a challenge,’ admits René. ‘It’s particularly popular with Prep School pupils in Years 6 to 8 who tend to choose food that’s familiar to them. We tried pasta with a creamy sauce with roasted peppers, which was a bit outside their comfort zone, so we realised we needed to simplify that for them.’ However, introducing students to new food experiences is something that is high on the agenda at Felsted. ‘It’s really important that the students are educated in food here,’ says René. ‘We run themed days every month – Chinese New Year, for example, but also focusing on the food of Canada and Kenya – but all the meals we offer are very international and also current. In fact, I take the chefs to London for a day every school holiday to visit the markets and see the variety of vegetables, fruits and other foods available, to spot the latest trends and find out what people are eating right now. It refreshes and inspires us. Just yesterday for the late supper we served a Cubana sandwich – ham, mustard and gherkins on toasted bread – something we picked up from our recent visit to Borough Market. It’s delicious!’ The hope is that broadening young people’s food horizons will encourage them to try meals of all kinds, and to be openminded when it comes to meat-free choices. ‘The purpose of our Meat-free Tuesday is not to drive our students away from the consumption of meat,’ says Chris Townsend. ‘The UK industry can be proud of its environmental record and progress in meat production, and at Felsted we are committed to supporting local producers. This initiative is about raising awareness, while we also look to reduce food waste, and minimise the distances that produce travels from production to plate.’ Nicky Adams is PR consultant, Felsted School


Clouds of glory Anna Bunting celebrates the blazer Recognising students for their achievements is undoubtedly important in helping to build their self-esteem and sense of pride. Ordinarily this comes in the form of a certificate, a mention at an assembly or perhaps a badge, but the rise of bespoke blazers signals a changing tide in how we can recognise the achievements of students. For some, the concept of a Colours Blazer may be well known and established amongst the school community, for others it will be a totally foreign entity. Perhaps better known are sporting blazers – think of rowing where the banks of Henley are littered with a colourful array of blazers in July or perhaps rugby or cricket where teams can often be seen on tour or after matches in smart shirts and blazers. The impact of a distinctive blazer having been earned is well known at Abingdon School. Perry has been supplying the distinctive pink and white striped Abingdon School Rowing blazer for a number of years. When fittings take place at the school the boys are excited to have earned the opportunity to wear their blazer. It is a source of pride and gives them a sense of belonging to their school long after they leave the school gates at the age of eighteen. Some schools choose to offer a blazer to all members of their alumni so as to provide an opportunity to maintain that sense of belonging and school community after the pupils have left. The alumni organisations at schools such as Haileybury and Ashville College, have distinctive blazers that have been

available to their alumni for a number of years through Perry, and still today it proves popular with alumni who may have graduated many years earlier but still maintain their pride and connection with their alma mater as a past pupil. At University level, there is the award of a Blue which recognises significant sporting achievement on behalf of your university. Traditionally, upon being awarded a Blue an individual buys a Blues blazer to signify their achievement. Perry works closely with Cambridge University Boat Club helping the tradition of the original Blue blazer to continue for the future. There is of course the argument that blazers are outdated or that students would not want to wear them today. This argument is based on seeing a blazer as simply a piece of clothing. The blazers we are discussing here are highly bespoke and move beyond the realm of clothing to a memento that can be worn and remembered fondly as a representation of a period of their life. We often find that people want to purchase their school colours or alumni blazers years after leaving the school, as they regret not having done so at the time. One dilemma often faced by schools is finding a flattering fit that girls like to wear as well. Traditionally blazers have been boxy and square; nowadays there are whole ranges of different styles available to flatter different body shapes. The modernisation of blazer styles means that the blazer has been given a new lease of life, as they can now be produced in styles that appeal to all generations.

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Pupils The term ‘blazer’ was first coined in Cambridge in the 1800s in reference to the ‘blazing red’ of the Lady Margaret Boat Club, the rowing club of St John’s College. This original blazer is still produced by Perry today. Whilst the history of the term ‘blazer’ may not be well known, it is well established that textiles were one of the major global industries at which the UK excelled during the 19th and early 20th centuries. With the growth of globalisation the UK’s textiles sector has shrunk, but today there still remain a few legacy mills weaving pieces of cloth for blazers, several of these in Yorkshire, and still recognised with pride for the quality of their woven fabrics. As one of a handful of specialist tailors still in existence, Perry designs cloth patterns and commissions cloth as part of the process of manufacturing distinctive blazers. Among many of its accolades was a commission to develop and manufacture the wardrobe for the hit musical Matilda, launched at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon to great critical acclaim. Not all organisations, however, have an existing blazer design that they can utilise – so what does it take to create one? Perry are well versed in helping schools develop blazers that are in keeping with their history and ethos. The first port of call



would be to understand the heritage of the school to ensure that the blazer compliments the school brand and future vision. The Perry Design Team will look to the crest of a school or club to research the club’s history and understand its heritage, and this provides the inspiration for the designs. Having determined the direction of the design and style, they create a Design Pack setting out a variety of ideas to develop a conversation leading to a consensus on the most appropriate blazer design for the organisation. This spirit of partnership is much appreciated by our clients, such as the Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club. ‘I wholeheartedly recommend Perry; not only are their blazers fantastic and very reasonably priced, their customer service is excellent. They take the time to work through designs to ensure the final blazer is just right.’ Is it time for your school to start a new tradition? The team at Perry are keen to work in partnership with schools to design and deliver blazers that will be worn with pride by your pupils. Anna Bunting is the Sales and Marketing Manager at Perry To share ideas with Anna, call 0113 238 9520 or email

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.


Howard Blackett, the Rector of Peterhouse, describes a walk with a difference Back in early March I took my dog Ruby, a beautiful Golden Cocker Spaniel, for a walk in Calderwood Park, 400ha of pristine Zimbabwean bush next to Peterhouse. I was with my wife Susie and my daughter Alice who had been with us for a week on a surprise visit from the UK for Susie’s birthday. We met up with Scott Walraven, Master i/c the Snake Club, who was in the park with five young lads looking for a viper or two to add to their collection. I wandered off with Ruby down to Dombo Dam, her favourite spot, for a bit of stick throwing/retrieving. As I bent down to find a stick, Ruby, already in the water, let out a sharp yelp. I looked up, thinking that she had probably trodden on a piece of glass, to see a (bloody great) python wrapping itself round her torso. I rushed into the water, grabbed the python by its tail, pulled as hard as I could and shouted for help. Reinforcements soon arrived, in the persons of my daughter, wife and the snake club boys, and soon enough we had the python stretched out but, as yet, still attached to Ruby’s rear right leg. It took some persuasion (a beating) before the python eventually gave up the fight and let go. Susie, Alice and I (heart pounding) rushed Ruby off to the vet. Meanwhile the python was sexed (a female) and measured (a mere 3.6 metres long) before being released back into the wild (pythons are Royal Game in Zimbabwe and killing them is illegal).


Summer 2019


The other half

Michael Windsor explains how Abingdon gives pupils a proper confidence What is character education? Recent Secretaries of State for Education have espoused its importance and Damian Hines recently unveiled a plan to establish ‘five foundations’ for building character across the state sector. We probably all have our own definitions of what character education might mean, and certainly independent schools have for a long time placed the development of character at the heart of their mission. Indeed, in 1862 the Head of Loretto listed his priorities in this order: ‘First – Character. Second – Physique. Third – Intelligence. Fourth – Manners. Fifth – Information.’ A quick trawl through school websites today confirms that personal development remains very important to our schools, with the enhancement of confidence often emphasised. It was certainly this aspect of character education that The Times picked up on in their report on Mr Hines’ recent announcement, their headline proclaiming: ‘All pupils will have the chance of gaining public school swagger’. I felt the choice of headline was both unfortunate and inaccurate. That phrase ‘public school swagger’ grates because it draws on outdated representations of our sector and does not reflect

what today’s independent schools are all about. I believe we would all agree that confidence has nothing to do with ‘swagger’ or arrogance but rather comes from allowing young people to be at ease with themselves and simply to be the person they want to be. In preparing pupils for the future, we need to help them grow the inner confidence that allows them to ride out tough times by fostering fundamental values such as integrity, humility and kindness, rather than nurturing an unwarranted and artificial sense of entitlement. How can we help our pupils develop this sense of inner confidence? Let’s start with life outside the classroom. Abingdon is renowned for the ‘Other Half’, a term that reflects our commitment to the importance of extra-curricular activities. The Other Half plays a key part in the personal development of our pupils as it allows them to challenge themselves in a huge range of activities. An advantage of the relatively large size of Abingdon is the sheer range of extra-curricular opportunities that we can make available – over 120 at the last count. This means that the Other Half can accommodate every possible

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taste and interest and that pupils have a great chance of meeting like-minded friends in their various activities. There’s no such thing as a typical Abingdon pupil as there are so many different pathways for them to follow, which we ensure are equally valid and respected. We place a particular emphasis on taking pupils out of their familiar context and opening their eyes to the world beyond the bubble of school life. This is why our students gain so much from our partnership activities with local maintained schools, be it helping primary school children with DT or languages or producing short films with the Abingdon Film Academy. A recent scheme has seen sixth formers from Abingdon and two local partner schools mentoring Year 8 pupils in English, Maths and Science. While the younger pupils have benefited in terms of academic motivation and progress, the older students have learnt a great deal about leadership, teamwork and time management. We have a well-developed swimming partnership with a local secondary school which allows sixth formers from both schools to coach younger pupils, some of whom have barely swum before. I also love seeing our boarders helping out as Science Ambassadors at the family mornings we run with Science Oxford; students from all over the world engaging in learning and discovery with our local community. But I think it’s a mistake to conclude that the building of confidence is just about extra-curricular activities. This needs to be a focus in the classroom too. At Abingdon, our approach to teaching and learning demands that teachers encourage pupils to think for themselves and to take risks. We help teachers develop questioning techniques that require pupils to challenge received thinking and to express their own ideas and opinions, in an atmosphere in which they will be listened to and taken seriously by their peers and their teachers. We train students to understand the importance of feedback and to accept constructive criticism in the spirit in which it is given. We recognise the importance of praise, and every week teachers


Summer 2019

can nominate pupils for ‘Head’s Praise’ which gives students the dubious reward of coming for a chat with me at break-time (with a further reward in the form of chocolate). But we are not over-lavish with our praise, so that pupils know that when it does come, it is authentic and well-earned. Neither do we neglect the importance in building confidence of ensuring that pupils have strong foundations of knowledge upon which to draw. Teaching stands at the heart of developing intellectual confidence. Pupils are able to cope with new ideas or, indeed, are happy to formulate their own, if they have a really well-established foundation of knowledge in place. They can also approach the challenge of public examinations with confidence if they have been properly prepared for them. This does not mean teaching to the test. Good results should be a by-product of a good education where pupils can achieve mastery by establishing firm foundations through a coherent curriculum and regular, structured practice. Knowledge is also the true foundation for creativity. One of my great musical heroes, the jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins, famously spent two years practising his scales and technique on the Williamsburg bridge in New York (to avoid disturbing the neighbours) and in doing so developed a new and rich language for improvisation. You are going to have the confidence to try an audacious move on the rugby pitch or produce an imaginative and ambitious work of art if you’ve done plenty of practice and preparation beforehand. I’m all for developing confidence, but the last thing that we should be imparting to future generations is a veneer of arrogance or ‘public school swagger’. I hope rather that our pupils emerge from Abingdon with a sense of inner confidence that allows them to feel comfortable in their own skins, able to embrace change and challenge. Michael Windsor has been Headmaster of Abingdon School since 2016


Translation, swearing and sign language Emily Manock describes her experience of the Oxbridge application process Recently I received my offer to read German and French at Jesus College, Oxford University. Looking back, even though it was suggested to me earlier by relatives and others, I believe I first started to consider the Oxbridge route when I was in Year 10. Before this I did not consider it a possibility, as I believed I was not gifted enough to be considered for a place, as well as the fact that I was sceptical of my chances as a disabled student. However, I performed exceptionally well academically at the beginning of the year, particularly in my YELLIS test, and was invited on the Oxford trip that year. On that trip, we visited Jesus College, where I saw a student who was likely to have cerebral palsy as I do, and it was at that point that I began to set my sights on Oxford. The application process was stressful and required a lot of work. The first step of this process was the UCAS application, for which I received support from the school careers department, specifically in regard to my personal statement, which was brought up several times during my interview. Having initially applied for English and German, I studied intensively for my English and Modern Languages aptitude tests to improve my knowledge of German grammar and English language devices. This took a lot of detailed studies to maximise my marks, most of which I completed independently. The exam was complex, but there were a plethora of past papers that were easy to access online to give me an idea as to what concepts would be tested. Following this, I had to submit written work in both English and German that had been verified by School to show my writing ability, and it was after this that I had to wait to be called for interview. Having initially applied to Worcester College, I was one of the last people in the year to hear about my interview. And, when I got the email calling me for an interview, I was informed that I could not take English and German but was welcome to try for French and German instead. Additionally, I was allocated Jesus College rather than my initial choice. This meant I had to study

for another aptitude test and submit more work within just over a week. I received a lot of support from the MFL department, without which I would have struggled immensely, as a week was hardly enough time to prepare. Specifically, the focus on the interview with practices from both my languages teachers and within the Oxbridge CEP sessions helped a lot with preparation. The interviews themselves were a lot less intimidating than I was initially expecting. I felt that they were arguably the strongest part of my application, since I felt like my answers surrounding the two literary extracts were good and I felt confident in my approach to abstract questions on language as well. We touched on a number of subjects, including translation, swearing and sign language, as well as multiple topics I mentioned in my personal statement. I would, therefore, recommend that potential applicants try to maximise their super-curricular activities, such as lectures, workshops, summer schools and wider reading. I would also advise that candidates do not worry about being allocated to other colleges and courses because the University does, in fact, take it into account. Receiving the offer was a somewhat odd experience since the date fell in the middle of my mock exams. I had refused to check UCAS before going home, because I had two exams that day, and after having heard other people’s rejections, I was not confident I would be offered a place. However, when I got home, I was greeted by the envelope, and I was pleased to find it was heavy. When I opened the letter, I was completely elated, but I could only celebrate for around half an hour before going back to revise for the next day of exams. I am currently not sure what the future holds for me after Oxford, because the change in my course has led me to consider other career options, as well as possibly post-graduate education in a field such as Linguistics or Translation. Emily Manock is a student at Bolton School Girls’ Division’s Sixth Form

We visited Jesus College, where I saw a student who was likely to have cerebral palsy as I do, and it was at that point that I began to set my sights on Oxford.

Summer 2019



Technology and teenage mental health

Andrea Saxel reports on the progress of Cranleigh’s smartphone initiative

At Cranleigh we are mid-way through the second year of a project that aims to minimise some of the negative impacts of technology on the mental health and well-being of our young people. A year ago we introduced our new smartphone policy in which Year 9 pupils, including boarders, were not allowed access to smartphones in school at all! Despite the incredulity with which this initiative was received by many people, its impact on our school has been largely positive. The policy has been embraced with much enthusiasm by our parents; our Sixth Formers understand the reasoning behind it; and though in a group setting it seems that most of our Year 9s oppose the policy, I have yet to come across a pupil who, in a small group or one-to-one setting, has been genuinely annoyed by it. In fact, more and more I hear them admit that their lives are easier and that they ‘actually talk to each other’. Cranleigh is in no way ‘anti-technology’. All our pupils have work iPads that are controlled by the school and their usage is restricted. Long-term, the hope is that pupils will have a more instinctive understanding of the difference between a work device and a personal device. Parental support has been overwhelming, and with their blessing we have introduced restrictions for our Year 10s and 11s too. They are not allowed any access to their smartphone devices during the working day, but do have a window to use them in the early evening. It probably goes without saying that this makes the working day much easier to manage for the teachers, and though en masse the pupils oppose these restrictions, there has been no real drive from the pupils to reverse them, even with the avenues of student council available to them. I do not want to paint a picture of a technology Utopia though! Yes, there are some parents that do not fully support our stance, and yes, there are pupils who bring in secret phones, but this is hardly a novel scenario when it comes to schools. However, the negative impact will always be minimised when access to technology is minimised for the majority, because the minority who abuse the rules end up being the outliers in their boarding community. The next question is how we tackle the issue amongst our Sixth Formers. If we as adults are not as good as we should be around smartphone usage, it stands to reason that our Sixth Formers won’t be either. But, because we act in loco parentis in a boarding environment, we need to find some kind of balance between giving our pupils the independence to manage their


Summer 2019

own time and make their own mistakes, whilst also trying to protect them, particularly as they are not yet deemed adults as far as the law is concerned. Many of our parents have rightly asked whether we should have the same restrictions for Sixth Formers as for the younger pupils, but we are not convinced that this is the answer, particularly as they would undoubtedly be more sophisticated in finding their way around our policies! In any case, they are very nearly adults, so surely an educational stance would be the better approach. We are currently running trials in some of our boarding houses, where we secure their phones overnight, and for those who struggle to manage this area of their lives, we have put in very specific plans that restrict access during the day too. We do this in conjunction with plenty of conversation with the pupils involved, so that they feel they are taking ownership of this process, and end up feeling that they are taking control of their own lives. As we moved forward in this area, we realised that when we try to educate our pupils about the negative impacts this technology can have on their lives, they sometimes switch off, almost certainly because we are teachers and can come across as telling them what to do. To that end, we have started a new project, working with an expert in this field. Dr Emily Setty is an academic researcher at the University of Surrey, and her area of study involves the impact of technology on young people and their relationships. As part of the project, Dr Setty immersed herself in Cranleigh life for two weeks, spending time chatting to our pupils on an informal and confidential basis, in groups as well as one-to-one sessions, mainly in a relaxed boarding house setting. She also spent some time with Alliance, the highly popular student-led organisation that represents minority groups within our community. Their motto is ‘community, respect, equality’ and they aim to achieve this for all students at Cranleigh, so their input in this project was of particular interest to us. It was made clear to pupils that confidentiality would only be broken during this project in situations where a pupil was at risk of harm or abuse. Although we had concerns that our pupils might not fully engage with Emily because they saw it as a school project, rather than a genuine attempt to understand and find ways to positively impact on their lives, nothing could have been further from the reality. In typical Cranleigh fashion, they have been utterly open with her, and have really enjoyed the process of talking with someone who

Pupils isn’t a parent, teacher or counsellor, yet is young enough to understand the different societal pressures they face. Emily’s research has given us much food for thought as well as a much better insight into the complexities involved in the use of technology in our teenagers’ lives. We are bringing back Emily to work with us again, this time in small group workshops, where we hope that she can help our pupils come up with their own solutions to the



problems that technology use brings. The most important thing any educator can do is to enable young people to learn how to recognise the behavioural patterns that can prevent them from flourishing, and to work out how to change those patterns for themselves. Dr Andrea Saxel is Deputy Head Pastoral at Cranleigh School

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Natalia wins prestigious European Commission translation competition Woldingham Sixth Former Natalia Glazman is the UK winner of Juvenes Translatores, an annual competition that rewards the best translators in the European Union. Natalia beat students from 73 UK schools and will travel to Brussels in early April to be presented with the award, along with a winner from each of the other EU countries.   Natalia won for a translation from Spanish into English which is remarkable because her first language is Russian!  Natalia started learning English at the age of seven and describes her linguistic level at the time she joined Woldingham aged 11 as ‘OK’.  But her immersion into a British education at Woldingham quickly saw her become fluent, helped by her devotion to spending much of her spare time to reading and watching films in English.  Woldingham’s Head of Spanish, Mr Angel López, soon spotted her talent for his native language (Natalia achieved one of her eight A* GCSEs in Spanish) and encouraged her to continue with it at A Level alongside her other passion, science. Headmistress, Mrs Alex Hutchinson commented: ‘I’m enormously proud of Natalia’s achievement, and also of our language teachers who have nurtured and developed her undoubted talents. That Natalia is applying to study Biochemistry with Spanish is testament to the breadth of academic excellence at Woldingham and I have no doubt that Natalia’s linguistic talents will open up many opportunities to her in the future, both professionally and personally.’ The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation has been organising the Juvenes Translatores contest every year since 2007. Its aim is to promote language learning in schools and give young people a taste of what it is like to be a translator. For more information: juvenes-translatores/2018-contest/winners_en

Summer 2019



Getting it right for overseas pupils from the start

Helen Wood considers the EAL student experience in independent boarding schools In September 2019, approximately 12,650 new overseas pupils will take up places at independent schools in the UK. Although many of these students will have parents for whom English is not their mother tongue, the children themselves may consider English as their ‘first’ language. This is particularly the case where they have been pursuing their education through the medium of English at a British international school prior to their move to the UK. This does not mean that joining their new school in Britain will necessarily be any easier for these students. Even those with considerable experience of using English in a mainstream educational context can face immense challenges on a linguistic, cultural and emotional level. So, how can schools appropriately frame their admissions policy, curriculum design and pastoral infrastructures for these international pupils to allow them to flourish? And, equally importantly for home and international pupils alike, how can schools ensure a sense of community cohesion, whilst at the same time becoming more diverse?


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According to Struan Hellier, Head of Boarding at Woodbridge School in Suffolk, these are questions that require vision on the part of senior leaders. ‘We need to be clear why we want overseas pupils. Finances are of course important, but… if we see overseas pupils as a means to an end, inevitably, that is exactly how they will feel.’ For Hellier, this has a strong moral dimension which begins with determining whether the fit is genuinely right for both school and the child wishing to join it. ‘I have seen pupils with almost no English brought into exam classes, for example. With the best will in the world, unless a school is very specifically set up to cater for such students, the chances of effective integration, either academically or socially, are very limited.’ Dr Hilary Laver, Director of Admissions at Cheltenham Ladies College agrees, stressing that ‘the closer an overseas applicant joins to exam years, the more critical it is they have the language skills to get them off to a good start.’ In order to ensure that their applicants will thrive, Laver gathers information on


prior schooling, home language and whether the student selfidentifies as native speaker, bi-lingual or tri-lingual etc. For Year 9 entry or above, non-native English speaking applicants who have been in an international educational environment for less than two years are set an online screening test, Password Pupil, to ascertain whether their level of academic linguistic proficiency is sufficiently close to C1 on the CEFR (6.5 IELTS) to pass on to the next stage of the admissions process. This avoids the heartache of applicants unnecessarily being set hours of formal entrance exams only to be turned down for a place. Laver is right to be cautious, particularly in a selective school setting. While we lack data specific to independent schools, the attainment profile of EAL pupils starting in the state sector reveals that it takes longer than three years to reach full proficiency, even in an immersive setting. So, despite much heralded DfE figures in January 2018 showing EAL pupils out-performing native speakers in the EBacc, the detail behind the headlines was more nuanced. Analysis by the Education Policy Institute exposed huge differences between the higher proficiency EAL student achievement and their less linguistically able peers, with pupils arriving in Years 8, 9, 10 scoring an average of 4 (or D) and those arriving in Year 11 an average of just below 3 (or E). The report’s author, Jo Hutchinson, highlighted that there was a significant problem of ‘misleading data’ caused by baseline academic assessments being undertaken before a child attained linguistic proficiency, meaning that schools were consistently underestimating potential academic attainment of EAL learners to an unmeasured degree. Further research by Oxford University, published last October, supported the finding that

proficiency in English was the most significant factor in the variability in EAL pupil attainment. Professor Steven Strand and his co-authors urged schools to record the proficiency in English of their EAL pupils using standardised measures, such as the PIE Scale, and to target support appropriately. Such research must raise questions about the ‘value added’ claims of schools in the independent sector, too, particularly for those schools which have significant international cohorts and are not using appropriate tools to measure EAL learner proficiency. Overall, then, evidence points to a need for better assessment and benchmarking of EAL proficiency as the starting point for accurate data on attainment. It also suggests that either screening students at the admissions stage, or building an early review of EAL learner proficiency into the school calendar, are essential to an effective EAL strategy. Hilary Laver adds that admissions staff should communicate with the EAL specialists, who review EAL learner attainment soon after entry, via suitable literacy assessments, to check that new pupils have the skills to fulfil their potential and, if not, to adjust the language support strategies accordingly. One tactic adopted by some selective schools who pre-screen applicants is the use of Teaching Partnership Agreements, such as those available with Bishopstrow College, which prepares international pupils for entry into leading boarding schools. These agreements also allow the destination school to issue the prospective pupil a Tier 4 CAS covering a short-term preparation course. Alternatively, schools interviewing pupils as far as two years ahead of admission can suggest a longer preparation course for entry to prep school, senior school or sixth form (with a separate CAS). Either approach helps new

Summer 2019


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Password Pupil tests are ‘gold standard’ assessments in Maths and English used by independent schools for international pupil recruitment and admissions purposes. Password results can be relied upon for assessing entry to secondary education, GCSE, A level and IB programmes or utilised for pupil placement on arrival. They are: • designed by experts and aligned to international standards

started to use Password Pupil tests in September “We 2018 after looking at a few online testing companies.

This is a decision that I have not regretted. Support from the Password team has been excellent – nothing is too much trouble and they respond rapidly to queries we or our agents have. I would whole-heartedly recommend Password to any school looking to start online testing. Emily Allinson, International Registrar Royal Hospital School, Suffolk

representative from Strathallan School showed me “Atheir Password Pupil tests running. I saw how easy the

• rigorous, accurate and highly reliable • secure and simply managed online • time-efficient, eliminating paper based processes Password tests are controlled by our partner schools’ own staff and delivered by the school, their trusted representatives, or the British Council, wherever and whenever required.

platform was to use and how rapidly the results appeared. After a follow up demonstration by Caroline Browne, the founder of Password, we adopted both the English and Maths tests for our admissions purposes. I am just so glad to have come across it – we haven’t looked back. Jackie Fisher, Bursar Lime House School, Cumbria.

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Pupils international pupils hugely, according to Diana Cree, Director of External Relations at Lancing College, who underlines how vital, ‘having a good standard of English is for any pupil joining us.’ In addition to dedicated academic language tuition, however, these courses introduce concepts like the House system, and also teach unfamiliar team sports such as netball and rugby. ‘Our relationships with specialist providers means that when international pupils arrive with us they are better equipped for their studies and able to integrate more easily into the full UK Boarding experience,’ concludes Cree. Those independent schools best able to provide for lower proficiency EAL pupils work very hard to ensure that their school/pupil ‘fit’ is right by tailoring curricular and co-curricular delivery in-house. King’s Ely, for example, identifies these EAL learners through its entrance test procedures and early re-assessment on arrival. It has international programmes at Junior and Senior school level, whereby those requiring additional support are taught separately but integrated with their British peers through boarding and co-curricular activities. This, according to Matthew Norbury, Academic Director of International Programmes, ‘allows weaker EAL pupils to rapidly acquire language skills across the curriculum whilst at the same time building cross-cultural friendships, including with local students, through mutual areas of interest like sport or music.’ This integrative element is key for EAL learners and their British peers alike, and Struan Hellier speaks passionately of the immense opportunity it affords all concerned. But he also flags the on-going commitment required to encourage integration, involving whole families, teachers, support staff and pupils, through rites of passage, buddy systems, the range of extra-curricular

offerings, as well as practical support with bank accounts and medical registration. ‘The school which simply puts on a threeday induction course and considers the job done is failing its new pupils’, he says. Research from the university sector on the positive impact a strong sense of ‘belonging’ has on academic outcomes and well-being suggests that Hellier’s emphasis on developing a genuine sense of shared community is an important one. Such insights should make us think long and hard about how assessment and induction is conducted, with whom, and over what period support is required for both EAL and UK pupils to sustain progress in language proficiency and levels of integration. The lack of consistency in these areas across the independent sector also points to the need for CPD specifically targeted at marketing, admissions, pastoral and teaching staff that will better equip them to deal with the issues that having an increasingly international student boarding community leads to. Above all, perhaps, what senior leaders need to take on board is that the best measurements of success of the EAL/international strategies they adopt will include both the academic outcomes and the quality of relationships within their diverse student bodies. After all, surely successful and happy independent school alumni of all backgrounds will be our greatest advocates. Dr Helen Wood is Head of School Partnerships at Password Testing, having been Head of the International Section at d’Overbroeck’s School in Oxford for 10 years and their wholeschool Head of EAL for 18 years. She is a former Deputy Chair of BAISIS, the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students, and was a member of the Accreditation Scheme Advisory Committee of the British Council.

Summer 2019



Generation Z

Helen Jeys asks if this is really the snowflake generation The teenagers of today are often cast in a really negative light. In a recent assembly, I reassured the girls at my school that the same was true during my own teenage years. I was a member of the so-called ‘Generation X’. Born between 1961 and 1981, I was apparently over-exposed to television and was the stereotypical ‘Latch Key’ child, born of the generation of ‘Boomers’ who were keen to explore careers of their own. Douglas Hurd, the then Home Secretary, said of us in 1988, that we had ‘too little selfdiscipline and too little notion of the care and responsibility that [we] owe to others.’ It seems that little has changed! Teenagers are still stereotyped and maligned by those who purport to know better. Today’s generation is, nevertheless, ‘different’ in what they are exposed to and what they have to face. The so-called ‘Millenials’ – those born between 1980 and 1996 - have grown up with computers, social media and huge technological advancement. This is nothing like, however, the digital natives of ‘Generation Z’ (those born after 1997) on whom sociologists are still drawing their conclusions. Generation Z are the true ‘wired generation’. They gather information quickly, they are global in their perspective, they are multi-tasking entrepreneurs who focus on the importance of individuality but they are also seen to be too concerned with political correctness; as ‘snowflakes’, they are easily offended, lack resilience and are emotionally vulnerable. However, there is so much more to the current generation than this stereotype. For instance, the risky behaviours usually associated with teenagers have reduced over the years. Cigarette smoking is at a historic low since peaking in the mid 1990s. Teen pregnancies are also at record low levels as well as teen driving fatalities and far more teenagers are likely to practise safe sex. Reports from 1980 suggest that about 55% of young

people used contraception for their first sexual encounter, now it is over 80%. All good! Indeed, Julie Lythcott-Hasims, the author of ‘How to Raise an Adult’ notes that even the possible negatives of social-media involvement have an upside: ‘I think we must contemplate that technology is having the exact opposite effect than we perceived … we see the negatives of not going outside, can’t look people in the eye, don’t have to go through the effort of making a phone call. There are ways we see the deficiencies that social media has offered, but there are obviously tremendous upsides and positives as well.’ Indeed, social media can and has been used for real good in recent years and can be associated with outstanding examples of young people who we can use as potential role-models for our current students. For instance, after the high-school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018, Emma Gonzalez, became the leading light in the US of the #NeverAgain movement, protesting against gun violence. Such movements have rallied young people, united them in protest against a common cause and at a recent rally in Washington in support of this movement, Yolanda Renee King, the eldest granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr even revisited the famous speech of her grandfather, stating that: ‘I have a dream that enough is enough … And that this should be a gun-free world, period.’ Neil Howe, the American author and historian supports the view that this current generation will be one that will be remembered for positive reasons. He comments that ‘they’re very good at using rules to make their point, and they’re absolutely excellent at negotiating with their parents and negotiating in a reasonable way about how to bend these rules in a way that will make them more effective and give them more space … This is not a ‘throw the brick through the window and burn stuff down’ group of kids at all. They’re working very constructively, armin-arm with older people they trust, to make big institutions work better and make them stronger and more effective.’ Inevitably, this is not the view of all, however. Many commentators are less positive about our current teenage generation, for instance even stating, as Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University does, that the fact that teens are less likely to drink alcohol and have unsafe sex is not because of greater


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maturity but rather because of reduced levels of maturity. She notes that teens are now more comfortable in their bedrooms or on smartphones than at a party, and are therefore ‘taking longer to grow up.’ She comments that the current generation is indeed physically safer than past generations, but not mentally so. Many of us would agree that because of what young people are currently exposed to via the internet – particularly with increased knowledge of and access to the dark web - the risk for young people now can be seen in increased rates of teen depression and suicide. ‘It’s not an exaggeration’, she states, ‘to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.’ We all know that anything used to excess - drugs, alcohol or phones - can be damaging to health, both physical and mental. I would agree that the potential impact of the overuse and exposure to filtered technology does lead young people to feel an incredible amount of pressure to fit in, to conform to the expectations society seems to have of them. But this is not the only worry for our current teen generation. We have all seen in the news the increased prevalence of gangs and knife crime. This is impacting young people of all backgrounds and all areas; not just the concern of inner-city London but also of leafy suburbia in all areas of the UK. A BBC article published in February 2019 reported that 27,000 children are in gangs and, since 2014, the number of knife possession offences committed by 10-17 year olds has increased by 70%. Furthermore, the rise of County Lines has increased concerns of children being pulled into and exploited by drug gangs. The National Crime Agency estimates that the number of dedicated phone lines for taking drug orders increased from about 720 to 2000 between 2017 and 2018. I wish that I knew how we can solve these issues, concerns that I will be continuing to address, not only with my students, but also with their parents. Parents need to be warned about the dangers that can be faced by their children and that they can be exposed to via the internet. I remember being told by a senior

member of CEOP a few years ago, that allowing your child to have free access to the internet in their room was as dangerous as allowing them to walk through Manchester on their own in the early hours of Saturday morning. And, although rather a cliché now, I wonder whether we are still reminding our parents of the threats their children are facing, potentially on a daily basis. We need to encourage our parents to take a hard line if we are going to protect teens through these precious formative years, particularly when parents are often scared to take such a stance with their children. This becomes even more problematic when we acknowledge that people are also incredibly busy and many parents do not and, perhaps, cannot participate in the lives of their children as much as they used to. Phillip Blond, of Cumbria University, notes that ‘children see less of their parents than at any time in the last 100 years and since nobody has any free time, civic life has virtually vanished.’ I am not saying (as a full time working mother of two) that we should return to the idealistic notion of working father and at-home mother, but our intent to create independent children who work on their own in their rooms, potentially exposed to uncensored material on the internet has, I think, gone too far the other way. I found myself inwardly smiling at the Sky News anchor, Colin Brazier’s, recent tweet where he states ‘somewhere in the field, off this balcony, is my teenage daughter’s recently-hurled smartphone. I’m sure a more constructive dialogue was possible…’ The youth of today have amazing qualities and are a joy to be around. However, life has become complicated, and using the tools of the past to measure their alleged ‘success’ as young people will never work, particularly when they are faced with a unique set of challenges. Rather we need to focus on these issues – both with them and their parents - and do all we can to support them through the chaos. There is no quick fix, but it would be wise for us to remember the African proverb that it does, indeed, take an entire community to raise a child. Helen Jeys is the Headmistress of Alderley Edge School for Girls

Summer 2019



This is UEA

Amy Palmer describes The University of East Anglia – a top 15 UK university, recognised as one of the best universities for student experience, graduate employment and research. We are an internationally renowned university based in a campus that provides top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to over 15,000 students. Set in 320 acres of parkland just two miles from the centre of Norwich, the campus is like a mini-city, designed so that everything a student could need is no more than a few minutes away. Our first-class student accommodation includes some award-winning architecture and beautiful Grade-II* listed buildings – the Ziggurats. UEA offers safe, comfortable and affordable accommodation and all students are guaranteed a room on campus in their first year (subject to conditions). In fact, UEA is in the Top 10 safest places to be a student (The Telegraph, 2017). Sport and physical activity is an integral part of community life at UEA. Our £30 million Sportspark houses an Olympicsized swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, and regularly hosts international sporting events. UEA also has the world famous Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and hosts an International Literary Festival which has included famous names such as Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Anne Enright (all alumni of UEA’s Creative Writing course). UEA is 10th in the UK for quality of research outputs (Times Higher REF 2014 analysis) and in the UK Top 25 for research quality (Times Higher REF 2014 analysis). We’re also in the top 1% of research citations in the world. The


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annual Highly Cited Researchers 2018 List identifies influential researchers who have demonstrated significant global influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers in the last decade.1 Our research spans the global challenges we face today: from meeting the needs of an ageing population to understanding the unique and fragile environments we live in. Our community comes together from a range of fields and with different perspectives to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges together – whether it’s fighting microplastics in our oceans, understanding wars fought over natural resources or countering social injustice around the world. We aim to inspire connected thinking and this is evident in our interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. We call it Thinking Without Borders. In fact, more than 82% of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in the most recent UK Government’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. UEA sits in the heart of one of Europe’s largest collaborative research sites - Norwich Research Park. This unique park brings together the talents and expertise of Europe’s leading centres for research in food, health and the environment. Norwich Research Park includes the John Innes Centre, specialist in plant science, genetics and microbiology, and the Earlham Institute where biotechnology and computational science are


being used to tackle some of today’s most challenging biological questions. At UEA, we welcome over 15,000 students to our campus each year from over 130 different countries, facilitating a rich and culturally diverse campus environment and the opportunity for students to develop cross-border, life-long relationships. It is important to us that every student at UEA does well in their studies and enjoys student life. The Student Support Service at UEA offers a wide range of advice and guidance, from financial advice, to support via our Learning Enhancement Team. We have dedicated Disability and Wellbeing services that offer professional, proactive and approachable support, enabling students to participate fully in their university lives and beyond. With over 250 societies, ranging from American Football to Quidditch, UEA offers a university experience like no other. Our Students’ Union (SU) is recognised as one of the most progressive in the country. The SU operates a host of facilities, off and on campus, including an advice centre, the Nick Rayns LCR and the Waterfront. Our community stretches far beyond Norwich: we have over 200 global Study Abroad and Exchange partnerships which help us provide students with global opportunities and enhance diversity on our vibrant campus. We work with partner universities in Europe, Asia, Australia, America and many more. We are a ‘University of Sanctuary’, offering scholarships and short courses for refugees settling in Norfolk. We also provide outreach programmes across the globe, taking UK higher education to schools. Our on-campus international students are involved in local outreach programmes through volunteering schemes and initiatives such as ‘Global Voices’, whereby students visit Norfolk school children. UEA offers an unconventional approach to teaching and learning because we believe this leads to unconventional, brilliant thinking that makes a real impact in the world. In 2017, we were awarded the highest possible ranking a university can achieve, Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Gold.

96.3% of UEA UK graduates from full-time first degrees in 2016-17, who were available for work, were in work or further study six months after graduating.2 At UEA, students have access to a wide range of potential employers, locally, nationally and globally, and the UEA’s CareerCentral offers help and support to find the right placement or internships. This support is continued for up to three years after a student has graduated. The UEA Internship Programme helps students to increase their workplace confidence and gain skills that can be applied in an exciting and innovative range of projects and sectors. The Programme is highly recommended by more than 96% of former interns, and 91% of graduate interns told us that their internship helped them secure their current job. Students interested in starting their own business have access to one-to-one business coaching, mentoring, skills workshops and competitions delivered by industry experts. Our Enterprise Centre, one of the UK’s most sustainable buildings, serves as a regional hub for innovators and businesses. We believe it’s the individuals that make UEA unique. We’ve a rich history of remarkable students, including Nobel Prize winners, geneticist Sir Paul Nurse and novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro. Our Alumni Association is a network of over 127,000 members worldwide and students can be confident that their experiences at UEA will give them the best start possible in their chosen career. Our graduates have gone on to work for major companies such as the BBC, Aviva, Apple, NATO, The Times, United Nations, The Cabinet Office and many more. Ground breaking projects, meaningful ideas and research that changes the world. A lot happens at UEA: anything is possible when the right individuals get together – and this is just a taste of things to come. References 1. 2. Figures are based on a 78% response rate for UK full-time undergraduates to the DLHE survey

Summer 2019



Developing and managing schools overseas

Fiona McKenzie offers some global guidelines The dramatic increase in the number of British schools opening branch campuses in locations across the globe has largely been fuelled by demand from both local and expat parents. These parents want to give their children a world class education and help them to gain access to top universities and global employment opportunities. However, embarking on developing and managing a school overseas requires serious consideration and a clear understanding of what lies ahead on the journey, from conception to delivery and beyond. Fundamental to the process is for the parent school to identify the educational vision upon which it is going to base its overseas growth. What are the inherent characteristics that will enable its overseas branch schools to flourish? Is it their expertise as an ‘all through’ school? A speciality such as STEAM or STEM? What is the ethos of the school and how will this flourish internationally? The first step is to gain an in-depth understanding of the current education landscape and the prevailing market forces. What are parents looking for? What is the competition like? What role do the local regulators play? Having established the likely opportunities, they need to be measured against the proposed vision of the school to ‘health check’ if it is appropriate for the market. Will adaptations need to be made and will these still be in keeping with the ethos and spirit of the parent school? The size and nature of the school will need consideration: the market is changing and the demand for mid fee point schools is growing and this could influence the proposed nature of the school in terms of fees, class size and scale. Delivering the vision and transforming it into reality involves a huge range of factors, but there are three key ones: the business model, the delivering of a physical building and the human resources. The starting point for many on this journey will be establishing the most effective ownership model and the relationship between the school and the investors. Clear and appropriate legal and commercial advice are both essential. It is a complex area and the long-term relationship where all sides are satisfied with the returns and arrangements must be the key objective. Local government authorities will generally have clear guidelines on the relationship between investors and the parent school, and the type of business model considered to be sustainable in the local conditions. The practicalities will also involve seeking the relevant permissions from licencing authorities. They will need to understand the school’s vision and motivation for wishing to set up, to see the education plans and to be happy with the business model being proposed.


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At the same time, work will be going on to deliver on the physical plant of the school: confirming a site, commissioning contractors, architects, project managers etc, to ensure that the building will be delivered on budget and on time. Other aspects such as the nitty gritty of uniforms, school caterers, furniture providers, playground equipment, computer systems and text books will also need to be considered. In terms of HR, it is crucial to have a timeline setting out when the key people need to be brought on board. For example, a Founding Principal should ideally be in post at least a year before the planned opening date. They will be responsible for establishing the curriculum and recruiting the key team members, as well as bringing the school to market. For this, they will need to be supported by an admissions and marketing team familiar with the local environment. Teacher recruitment is another key aspect: recruiting good staff can prove challenging in some parts of the world. Salary is an element, but the overall package and opportunities for professional development are also important in this competitive field. The delivery stage will unite all aspects of the project on a time line dictated by the opening schedule. The challenge for schools is that an opening date has to fit with the academic education cycle and they cannot afford to miss the start of the academic year. As the building rises from the ground, the key staff members start to come on board and the pupil recruitment starts to intensify, it is a question of keeping everything on track. This means managing the inevitable hiccoughs on the way and making sure that, whilst a certain degree of flexibility is necessary, the central vision of the school does not get lost in translation.

Abroad The day dawns when the first pupils enter the school! The vision has been delivered but now the challenge comes in maintaining and managing the school. Pupil recruitment in the early life cycle of the school is mission critical. The growth of pupil numbers, and whether they are below or above target, can present challenges in terms of staffing as well as cost implications and both need to be managed carefully. Equally, it is sensible to focus on pupil and, indeed, staff retention, and schools that deliver on what they have promised generally find their reputation enhanced. Cultural sensitivity can play a role in this, and it is important that both the admissions teams and the teaching staff are all fully briefed and implement adaptations. The delivery of the education should be the bedrock of any school, but in a start-up it is important to have regular quality



assurance by the parent school to ensure that the same high standards and ethos are being maintained. Parents can then be reassured that their children are getting the education they were promised. In some parts of the world, a rigorous inspection regime starts very early in the life cycle of the school, ensuring that standards are being maintained and that the school is compliant in all the key regulatory areas. Managing expectations is ongoing, whether it be those of the governors, the parent school, the owners and investors, or those of the school community in terms of teachers, parents and children. The key is to deliver what was promised, to flag up and be open about any challenges and, most of all, to try to stay true to the integrity and purpose of the initial vision. Fiona McKenzie is Director Gabbitas Middle East

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Brentwood Cadets show their mettle Congratulations to Royal Navy Cadets, CPO Cameron Lindsay and CPO Jack Warman, who took on the challenge of the Royal Marines Commando ‘Look at Life Course’…. and survived! ‘Jack and I needed to do a residential for our Gold DofE and this course was described as ‘the hardest course a cadet can attempt’. We completed the four main parts of the Potential Royal Marines Course (PRMC) at Lympstone Commando, in Exeter, the training base for all Royal Marines. This involved tackling: The PRMC fitness test The 3-mile run - the first 1.5 miles done as a squad in 12 minutes and the last 1.5 miles done as an individual best effort where the pass time is 10 minutes 30 seconds The endurance course - a two-mile obstacle course involving black-out tunnels, wading through lakes and the infamous sheep dip (a submerged underwater tunnel filled with freezing rainwater) The famous ‘bottom field’ assault course - a mile-long assault course with obstacles including a 7ft wall, 5ft wall, monkey bars over water, tunnels, a 12ft wall and many more. We also attempted the regain tank, a tank of cold water over which we had to crawl on a rope, then hang down with our arms extended and finally get back on the rope; and spent a day in the field, learning how to erect bivvys (tents) and getting a lesson on Camo, concealment and stalking. The course was a great experience for both of us and although it was one of the hardest things we have done, we both enjoyed it and made some great friends. It has also resulted in me wanting to sign up to the marines after I finish my university degree.’

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‘Too early to say’? Patrick Tobin finds that he has been living history as well as teaching it Although I thought of our recent visit to China as a geriatric first, this was not, in fact, strictly accurate. When I was Headmaster of Prior Park, the school’s connections had taken me twice to Hong Kong during the 1980s, and after the second visit we travelled by train across the paddy fields for a few nights in Guangzhou. But we were thirty years younger then and the world has changed drastically during those three decades. China has undoubtedly emerged as one of the two world superpowers, and in 1997 Hong Kong was returned to China. Modern China cannot be understood without reference to the shame engendered by decades of subservience to western imperialism. I must once have taught the Opium Wars as part of the O level History syllabus, but I cannot remember them challenging sensibility as they do now. From the 18th century, the East India Company smuggled opium from India into China through warehouses in Canton (Guangzhou), whence Chinese middlemen would carry it into mainland China. The trade created millions of Chinese addicts and devastated the large coastal Chinese cities. In 1839, after a letter to Queen Victoria was ignored, the Chinese Emperor issued an edict ordering the seizure of all the opium in Canton. Great Britain turned to gun boat diplomacy and the Royal Navy inflicted a series of defeats on the Chinese Empire. The war ended with the Treaty of Nanking, which ceded Hong Kong to Britain in perpetuity and established five treaty ports, including Canton and Shanghai. The strength of Western influence over China was demonstrated by the Shanghai ‘Bund’, a section of waterfront along the western bank of the Huangpu River. Here the imposing mansions built between 1900 and 1939 reflect the neo-colonial influence over the Republic of China in the early Twentieth Century of the banks and trading houses of the UK, France, the USA, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium. We flew from Shanghai to Xi’an to spend a day in the company of the Terracota Warriors and, by contrast, to take in some of the features of living in a major Chinese city. As we walked through the Xi’an market, a member of our group murmured, ‘Scraping a living!’ Hard to escape the impression that, for all its vaunted growth, China is still a third world country. Our guide remarked that China calls itself a ‘Socialist Republic’, but, in economic terms, there is very little socialism left. Politically, of course, it remains a one-party dictatorship. Some distance from the city we passed tightly packed clusters of ultra-tall high-rise flats. Why the need to accommodate thousands of people in this way? Our guide next day told us that high rise blocks are built to a height of 100 metres with a maximum number of 33 storeys. Above 100 metres/33 storeys, the government regulations prescribe emergency fire escapes,


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so that is the working maximum! Property developers buy up parcels of land from the State and will pack on to that land as many apartments as possible. We have been in China some days now and have yet to see a blue sky. Yesterday, our best yet, the sun peeped wistfully through the haze. Many adults and children go around wearing smog masks. From Xi’an by bullet train to Beijing. China is proud of having the greatest high speed railway system in the world, which links all the provincial capitals. We arrived at Beijing West Station and descended into a scene of utter pandemonium - porters shouting at the top of their voices and one of our female guides shouting back at them. How did I get the impression that the Chinese were an inscrutable, uncommunicative people? Then off we set, at a near gallop, the start of yet another long, long walk, the bane of this geriatric’s journey through China, but at least we finally encountered a blue sky above us. As we arrived, tired, at our vast five star ultra-modern hotel, surrounded by an array of new high-rise buildings, I felt buffeted by the assertive modernity and chilling impersonality of superpower China. It was not always thus. Our guide, ‘Connie’, told us that in 1950 transport in Beijing was restricted to 49 tram cars and several hundred rickshaws. There were no private cars. Forty years later, car ownership in Beijing had reached 1 million. Three years later, 2 million cars, now 5 million – an appalling traffic problem and environmental challenge. Beijing’s Summer Palace will always be associated with the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi and the last Emperor. The ‘Dragon Lady’ seems to have been a singularly awful individual. She was originally in the fifth rank of concubines, but was the only one to bear a son for the Emperor. On his death, she became the power behind the throne, holding the reins for her son. When he in turn died, she adopted a nephew, who also died. Another young man was murdered when he threatened to initiate reform. The dragon lady went on indulging her every whim until her death in 1908. It is perhaps no coincidence that the tomb designed to see the dowager empress through eternity is a marble boat set at a safe distance from the banks of a small lake. Meanwhile, Western powers did not disguise their contempt for what they regarded as a decadent state and in 1903 eight of them ganged up to sack the Summer Palace. By 1911, when the Chinese people belatedly decided that enough was enough and proclaimed a Republic, most of the treasures of the Summer Palace had been either destroyed or removed to western depositories like the British Museum. This sorry story brought home why post-imperial China was subsequently so vulnerable to Maoist dictatorship, and why modern China is not disposed to heed lectures from the West.

Abroad Tiananmen Square, the largest in the world as Connie proudly told us, houses the mausoleum of Chairman Mao. Connie told us that the Cultural Revolution was ‘Mao’s only mistake’. Her own parents had been spared the hounding by the young, uneducated Red Guard thugs of elites and the professional classes, but millions had died and millions more lives had been ruined. Now she declared that Mao was her greatest hero! She pointed to a brightly clothed troupe of Tibetans. I said that the West believed that China had ended Tibetan independence. No, she said, Tibet had always been part of China. I mentioned the Dalai Llama. He was, she replied, an enemy of China, supported by the USA. I realised that there would be no mention of what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989 – a hateful and fascistic monstrosity. China shows no prospect of escaping its political straitjacket. Unless one believes - it is arguable - that after its previous epoch of calamitous weakness, and after its recent decades of phenomenal, state-directed economic and technological growth and transformation, modern China cannot afford to dally with

democracy and human rights, it seems wrong to accept that the long suffering Chinese people will be better off without the individual entitlement which we take for granted in the West. The individual Chinese whom we have met have been kind and charming. They deserve better and they are perhaps beginning to see how that might come to pass. Connie, for instance, had travelled to Canada with her son to visit relatives in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. She mentioned the barriers placed by the Chinese government on internet usage and how much she had enjoyed access to Google in Canada. She enthused about the country, the friendliness of the people and the consideration they showed to one another, as opposed to China where people and drivers barge in relentlessly. It was a fascinating encounter with a very different world, one which might represent the future more than I find it comfortable to contemplate as the democratic segment of the globe seems to be shrinking by the day. Patrick Tobin was Chairman of HMC in 1998

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‘Ms Kennedy knows absolutely everything’ Alison Kennedy rejoices in the role of an embedded librarian When I say School Librarian what do you think? A stern old lady who sits behind a desk telling pupils to be quiet, while stamping books? School Libraries are so much more than an isolated room in the corner of a school, where pupils come in occasionally to borrow dusty old books. School Libraries in the information age are more relevant now than ever, as we equip our young people with the skills necessary to move forwards into the ever-changing world of work. When faced with so much information, school librarians can act as a guide, so that the task of finding the right, accurate content is much easier for our young people. In 2015 I came to St George’s School, Ascot as Head Librarian and my objective was to take charge of a stunning, brand new, purpose-built library. From the outset it was essential that the entire school community recognised that the Library had so much more to offer than ‘just books’. A School Librarian must make their presence known across many areas of a school in order to develop relationships and opportunities for collaborative work. In my first term I found myself taped to a wall for a charity event and this certainly set the tone for many future interactions with the school community! If there is an event happening it is vital to think ‘How can I, and the Library, support this?’. Each time a School Librarian promotes the services on offer from the School Library it raises the profile


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of the service. Whether it is running a research skills class with the History department on their Castles project, with the end result being some craftily created 3D castles, or a session with a Film Studies A Level class on how to create an annotated bibliography, the work we do has the potential to cover all areas of the curriculum, and beyond. There is often the misconception that the School Library is purely the domain of the English Department, and this can be reflected in the line management structures within a school. I am fortunate enough to be managed by our Deputy Head (Academic) so my outreach and perspective crosses all departments and subjects. Relationships with staff in all areas of the school is vital; those informal discussions that take place in the staff room or over lunch can lead to fruitful cooperation and fantastic new ideas. At St George’s we have a Teaching and Learning Focus group, and through this group I have been one of the members of staff delivering mini-INSET sessions on topics such as referencing, plagiarism, digital research skills and the ubiquitous ‘fake news’. It is not only the pupils who are supported by the School Library, because we can supply resources to supplement and expand upon the teaching in class, provide advice on materials, and guidance on referencing and research techniques for staff too. In order to be effective at this we must stay on top of current trends, have up to date

Books resources, and understand where information technology and digital resources can be applied and used alongside traditional resources. There have been a number of other opportunities for me to get involved across different areas of the school, and in my first year I became a Head of House. We take our House competitions very seriously and the girls in my house recently won House Debating. I like to think that my role as School Librarian helped guide them towards victory, as I encouraged them to research the topics thoroughly and apply critical thinking and analysis to try and anticipate the arguments from the opposition! As I live on site, I work evenings and weekends in a boarding house that caters for the girls in Years 7 to 10. The number of times I have conversations in the evening or at bedtimes about books is testament to my daytime role as School Librarian, and supposed fountain of knowledge about everything. Yes, everything. During a recent Open Morning I overheard a pupil saying ‘That’s our librarian Ms Kennedy over there, she knows absolutely everything’. Many people do not realise the incredible pastoral role that a School Librarian has. We are available at all times and my open door policy means that any girl can come to me with a query, question or problem. It is essential that young people feel listened to and can learn about anything in a non-judgemental environment. The minute a pupil walks through your door they are your priority, the emails and invoices can wait. One of my other roles in the school is Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) Coordinator. It is a role that compliments librarianship perfectly, as it is a research based qualification. Part of the course is a Taught Skills Programme whereby the pupils are equipped with all the tools necessary to undertake a small scale research project, an enormous advantage in the progression to University level study. Pupils learn how to develop useful search terminology when researching online; how to manage their notes and master referencing skills; how to refine initial searches to become more precise; how to spot ‘fake news’ or material that has bias in it; and the importance of interpreting information for their own projects so as to avoid plagiarism. All of this combined helps to take submissions to that next level of academic writing. Ask any School Librarian and they will wax lyrical about reading for pleasure. As humans we have an innate desire to share stories and connect through shared experiences. We also learn about other cultures and fill knowledge gaps through reading. Reading for pleasure not only fulfills a basic human need and ensures wellbeing (see organisations such as The Reading Agency for further details) but it has been proven to contribute to attainment across the curriculum. In fact, a 2012 report from the Department for Education stated that ‘those who read stories or novels outside of school ‘every day or almost every day’ score significantly higher...compared to those that do so once or twice a week.’ Undoubtedly there are many children who struggle with reading, as they may have a Special Educational Need (SEN) or English as an Additional Language (EAL), or they may simply not have connected with that one book that will change their outlook. When I started at St George’s, I decided that it was vital to develop a collection that would engage EAL pupils, and reluctant or struggling readers. I find that Barrington Stoke

have an incredible collection of dyslexia friendly and easy reader books, and many from well known and much loved children’s authors such as Malorie Blackman and Michael Morpurgo. I am also a huge advocate for the role of the graphic novel in reading for pleasure. Some have the attitude that if it has pictures then it is not really reading, but I would argue that this is wrong. Any reading is important reading, and if we can get young people into the habit early, then does it really matter if they begin with graphic novels? They still need to actively engage in the story, empathise with characters and follow dialogue. The additional benefit of images helps those who tend towards visual learning. Graphic novels also help with language acquisition in EAL pupils as the image helps create meaning from the words they are reading. So many graphic novels also explore other cultures, such as the Aya of Yop city series by Marguerite Abouet and the Dan Delisle travelogues on remote destinations such as Pyongyang in North Korea. Creating this cultural bridge can open up whole new worlds for young people. The key thing is that graphic novels are also seen as ‘cool’ and not the embarrassing easy readers that can highlight that a pupil is a little behind in reading level. Out of school I am a committee member on the Central and East Berkshire branch of the School Library Association and also serve on the committee for the Berkshire Book Award. As solo workers, or working with one of two other colleagues at most, being a School Librarian can be quite an isolated position. We therefore welcome opportunities to share best practice with colleagues in other schools and develop initiatives that benefit children across the county. There is something special about bringing together a group of enthusiastic readers to meet an author or discuss books; such experiences stay with them and show reading in a positive light. However, this status as ‘solo worker’ also makes it important to develop relationships across the school and see the role within the bigger picture. The School Library Association currently has a campaign entitled Great School Libraries, which aims to bring together information from School Libraries across the country, and creates an overall picture of the provision. School Libraries, if they exist in a school, vary enormously from school to school and local authority to local authority. I firmly believe that the value of School Libraries is not necessarily about how big the library space is, or how many books or digital resources are available. Oh yes, all of this helps, but the main force that leads to the success of a School Library is the School Librarian. We work tirelessly to integrate the Library into all areas of the school in order to benefit each and every pupil whatever their interests or needs are. Alison Kennedy is the School Librarian at St George’s School, Ascot Some useful and interesting articles: for%20Pleasure%20and%20Empowerment.pdf ht t ps://w w w.u /en/school-lea rning / lea rning-at-home/ encouraging-reading-writing/how-graphic-novels-can-help-kids-withreading-issues attachment_data/file/284286/reading_for_pleasure.pdf

Summer 2019


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Firmness and Elasticity


David Warnes reviews … A Delightful Inheritance by Peter LeRoy. Monkton Print, 2017. ISBN 978-1-9998698-0-9 A reading of the history of any British independent school affords a reminder that each of those institutions is unique, both in the intentions of its founders and in the ways in which those intentions have been modified, distorted or undermined by social and economic factors and by changes in prevailing values and beliefs. A Delightful Inheritance, Peter LeRoy’s sesquicentennial history of Monkton Combe School, illustrates this truth. Monkton Combe began when in 1868 the local vicar, the Revd Francis Pocock, took on the education of a small number of sons of missionaries. It was an unpromising start - the first pupil died at the end of his first term – but progress was rapid, and within six years the school had achieved its first Oxbridge scholarship and held its first Sports Day. Backing from the Church Missionary Society helped to ensure its survival and expansion, and reinforced its Evangelical values. The first extant set of school rules, dating from 1883, helped to set that tone by ordering ‘No reading of novels. No intoxicating liquor…’ (though a rider to the latter prohibition suggests a more liberal outlook than that then prevailing at Kingswood School, just over the hill in Bath) … ‘except at meals’! LeRoy’s account of Monkton Combe’s first century is based on the work of A.F. Lace, whose A Goodly Heritage was published in 1968, and his concise summary of Lace’s work will encourage readers to revisit that volume. The Revd John Kearns became, in 1902, the first Headmaster to be a member of the Headmasters’ Conference, and the school continued to expand and develop during the early decades of the twentieth century, acquiring new science laboratories, a chapel and library in the 1920s. On the outbreak of the Second World War there were 100 pupils in the Junior School and 147 in the Senior School. The post-war era saw the school incorporated as a charitable trust ‘to provide education for boys combined with sound religious training on Protestant and Evangelical principles in accordance with the doctrine of the Church of England’. By the time of the centenary there were 307 pupils in the Senior School and 192 in the Junior School. A.F. Lace noted that 130 Monktonians had served

overseas in the mission field during the school’s first hundred years and that there were currently no fewer than 127 OM clergy. By 1968 both those Protestant and Evangelical principles and the very existence of independent schools were being called into question. At one of the centenary celebrations, Donald Coggan, then Archbishop of York and a governor of the school, felt it important to emphasise that it would be ‘the height of folly for any government so to organise its political affairs as to cripple a school like this.’ At the same time, social and cultural changes meant that the sex education offered by Head Master Derek Wigram, which LeRoy characterises as ‘somewhat limited and opaque’, was being overtaken by events. Wigram, who was Chairman of HMC from 1963-4, was credited by The Times obituarist with transforming ‘a small, inward-looking, Low Church foundation into a school which enjoyed a high reputation’. His successor, Dick Knight, who arrived from Oundle in 1968, saw a need to stand firm on fundamental values but to relax some of the stricter aspects of school life, including the rule about no sport on Sundays. Two girls joined the sixth form in 1971, and by the time Knight retired in 1978 their number had risen to sixteen. The rapid increase in fees in the 1970s and the trend away from boarding posed questions about the future of many schools. Knight’s successor, Richard Meredith (1978-90), had the difficult job of trying to please both those parents whose mindset was Conservative Evangelical and those who were looking for a somewhat broader and more liberal Christian education. Monkton was one of the few schools with a Parents’ Prayer Fellowship, a body which was not always supportive of change. Meredith, who had already earned the tabloid sobriquet of ‘the man who put the giggle into Giggleswick’ by introducing co-education in that North Yorkshire school, increased the number of girls at Monkton Combe, as well as introducing 11+ entry and the recruitment of a small number of boarders from Hong Kong. Michael Cuthbertson (1990-2005) inherited a school with better buildings and facilities, but declining pupil numbers.

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Books LeRoy quotes a governor as saying that the new Head ‘had two years to save the School’ and adding that it was well worth saving. A move to full co-education and a merger with Clarendon School, which had a similar Evangelical ethos, were among Cuthbertson’s and the Governors’ creative responses to the situation. Another challenge, that of maintaining the Christian ethos at a time when it was increasingly difficult to recruit staff who were committed Christians, was clearly met. The ISIS report of 2000 noted that ‘…there is no sense of a religious line being imposed’ and added that ‘The Christian Union is strong…and... is regarded by numerous pupils as ‘cool’.’ Under Richard Backhouse (2005-15) and Chris Wheeler (2016- ) the school has continued to develop and to flourish. The 2010 edition of The Good Schools Guide commented that the school was ‘popular, of course, with evangelical Christians and those who want the values’, a judgement which goes some way to explaining Monkton Combe’s continuing success. There are many parents of no particular religious persuasion who nevertheless seek for their children an education which is rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. That yearning for a grounding in shared values can be seen as a reaction to the widespread view that values are a matter of individual choice, a view which is erosive of all communities, including school communities. LeRoy’s love of the school (he is both an alumnus and a former Headmaster of the Junior School) is evident throughout this


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carefully researched book, which offers both the level of detail that will satisfy the most ardent of Old Monktonians and a clear sense of the broader historical context. He is occasionally inclined to hint that developments in the history of Monkton Combe are evidence of the workings of Divine Providence, an approach against which Herbert Butterfield warned when he argued that scholars could not uncover the hand of God in history. He makes clear that the school’s Christian ethos has fostered rather than hampered freedom of thought. A glance through the list of distinguished former pupils, including as it does Church leaders as different as Bishop Maurice Wood and Monsignor Graham Leonard, and lay people as diverse as Sir Richard Dearlove and Sir Richard Stilgoe supports that conclusion. Butterfield understood that religious faith can foster freedom of thought in the way that Monkton Combe clearly does. His Christianity and History concludes thus: ‘There are times when we can never meet the future with sufficient elasticity of mind, especially if we are locked in the contemporary systems of thought. We can do worse than remember a principle which both gives us a firm Rock and leaves us the maximum elasticity for our minds: the principle: Hold to Christ, and for the rest be totally uncommitted.’ David Warnes was educated at Kingswood School and has recently retired as a priest in the Scottish Episcopalian Church.


You’re an awful preacher, Matron… David Warnes reviews ….

From Morality to Mayhem: The Fall and Rise of the English School Story by Julian Lovelock The Lutterworth Press, 2018. ISBN 978-0-7188-9540-2 From Tom Brown’s Schooldays to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, boarding school stories have attracted a readership well beyond the minority of children who have experienced boarding education. In From Morality to Mayhem: the Fall and Rise of the English School Story, Julian Lovelock identifies the tropes that have sustained the genre and the innovations which have refreshed it. The title of this review, a remark made without ironic intent by a pupil in Enid Blyton’s Last Term at Malory Towers, raises the question of why fiction characterised by ‘…repeated pronouncements of how children should behave and life should be lived’ proved so popular. As Matron’s interlocutor adds: ‘…I can’t think why I like you.’ Yet like them children did and still do. The extensive output of Elinor Brent-Dyer, Angela Brazil, Frank Richards, Anthony Buckeridge and Blyton herself, and the massive sales of J.K. Rowling’s books attest to their popularity. The preachiness of Blyton’s writing is much more obvious to adult readers than to children, and far less explicit than some of the school stories of the high Victorian era. F.W. Farrar’s Eric or Little by Little (1858) had a short-lived vogue but by 1899, when Stalky & Co was published, Kipling has Beetle, the character through whom he speaks most directly to the reader, insisting that ‘…we ain’t goin’ to have any beastly Erickin’. Lovelock writes perceptively about Farrar’s novel, in which he discerns writing of ‘extraordinary power’. He suggests that the book is ‘…a glorious failure…What remains problematic is how far a school story, written initially for children, is a suitable setting for a cosmic tug of war’; a challenge which J.K. Rowling took up in the late 20th century, only to be condemned by conservative evangelicals who could not see beyond the broomsticks and spells to the themes of love, sacrifice, redemption and forgiveness. The Stalky stories are an interesting mix of mayhem and an imperial code very different from the Evangelical theology of Farrar or the Muscular Christianity advocated by Thomas Hughes, though not by Dr Arnold. Lovelock makes clear that the rise in the popularity of the school story in the first half of the 20th century was in part possible because writers were no

longer trying to convey a religious message. God is absent from the worlds of Billy and Bessy Bunter and ‘…is only allowed a single embarrassed appearance’ in Dorita Fairlie-Bruce’s 1921 novel Dimsie Moves Up . The appeal of boarding school stories to those with no experience of boarding school life is difficult to pin down. They may, as in the fiction of Brent-Dyer and Buckeridge, afford opportunities for children to imagine life away from their parents and to see it as an attractive prospect. Both the Chalet School and Linbury Court are pleasant and predictable environments, where friendships are formed and mishaps are safely navigated. In contrast to that, the ‘distancing journey from home to the different world of school’ is a prelude to adventure and serious challenges both for Tom Brown in the Tally-Ho coach to Rugby and for Harry Potter in the Hogwarts Express. Lovelock’s coverage is near-comprehensive and includes the relatively small number of stories set in day schools and some mention of books intended for adults that are wholly or partly set in schools. Given the vast numbers of school stories published in the past century and a half, he wisely gives the reader an overview of the various sub-genres he identifies and writes in greater detail about a relatively small number of works. One of the sub-genres is the Anti-School Story, and he perceptively explores William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Giles Cooper’s Unman, Wittering and Zigo. He finds merit in books whose titles sound unpromising, including Dimsie Moves Up. Dimsie and her friends are in revolt against Soppism, the sentimentality that abounds at their school. Josephine Elder went further. Her 1929 novel Evelyn Finds Herself is characterised by Lovelock as ‘an antiSoppist story’ in which the ‘raves’ and ‘grand passions’ to be found in some of the novels of Angela Brazil are eschewed. The Labouchere Amendment of 1885 meant that Alec Waugh’s allusions to the fleeting homosexual relationships between pupils in a boys’ boarding school in The Loom of Youth (1917) caused considerable outrage, whereas Brazil’s inclusion of two romantically attached girls named Lesbia and Regina in Loyal to the School (1921) was more acceptable, a reviewer in

Summer 2019


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Feature The Times Literary Supplement judging that ‘Lesbia’s struggles to subdue her ardent impulses are sympathetically handled.’ Feminists deplored Brazil’s work. In 1936 the High Mistress of St Paul’s Girls’ School threatened to burn her entire output. The Loom of Youth ends conventionally enough with its hero enjoying a triumphant innings in the house match final. In the majority of school stories, games (whether Rugby, Cricket, Hockey or Quidditch) feature far more prominently than learning in the classroom or the laboratory. The absorption of knowledge and its relationship to the development of character are harder to capture, though Kipling managed it in his short story Regulus (1917) in which, at the end of a Latin lesson, Beetle, who has hitherto regarded the teacher Mr King as an authority figure to be mocked, observes: ‘When King’s really on tap he’s an interestin’ dog.’ One of the strengths of Lovelock’s book is that he links the fall and rise of the school story to changes in society and developments in education. Improvements in secondary education in the second half of the twentieth century and the transformation of boarding schools into more civilized and humane places might have meant the end of the school story, but this has turned out to be ‘not quite the case’ and ‘what has undoubtedly been lost in quantity has more than been made up for in quality.’ Some recent examples have been firmly rooted in the real world, notably Pennington’s Seventeenth Summer (1970) by K.M. Peyton, whose anti-hero ‘comes from a dysfunctional working-class family’. Others, notably Jill Murphy and J.K. Rowling, introduced elements of magic and fantasy and were able to write engagingly about teaching and learning because they describe a curriculum very different from that experienced by their readers. Though Rowling’s writing is, as Lovelock says, ‘very much in the tradition of the conventional school story’, it is not as conservative as critics, including Anthony Holden, have suggested. Rowling questions the privileges conferred by



private education to a greater extent than her predecessors. Her wizards and witches have powers denied to the rest of the population, the Muggles, and the ethical issues this raises are central to the stories. Hermione Granger, herself Muggle-born, is an outspoken champion of the underprivileged and quick to condemn racism and elitism. Others have used the school story to question current assumptions about the purpose of education. Andy Mulligan’s Ribblestrop (2009) challenges ‘…the idea of one-of-a-kind schools, ruled more and more by a nationally imposed curriculum’. At this point Lovelock, who taught at Dulwich College Preparatory School and Stowe before twenty-seven years as Head of Akeley Wood and a second career in higher education which culminated in his serving as Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, reveals his own views. ‘There are national examinations in which the ability to reproduce the ‘correct’ response has become more important than creativity and the unconventional answer risks failure.’ The best school stories are Bildungsromane in which children and young people achieve self-awareness by facing challenges and building relationships. Schools provide a context for that but, as Lovelock shows, educators encounter the unavoidable tension between the need for pupils to accept authority and the importance of sustaining and developing their vitality and creativity. Readers of From Morality to Mayhem will enjoy rediscovering, in Lovelock’s humanely critical company, the books that they read in their youth. They will also be encouraged to seek out the stories they missed and to explore the school fiction of recent years, not least the inventively subversive Ribblestrop, which he sees as ‘in many ways…the most enlightened school story of them all’. David Warnes is a former member of the Conference & Common Room editorial board

If you have news of topical interest, however brief, for ‘Here and There’, please email it to Tom Wheare at tom. Items should not exceed 150 words. Good colour photographs are also welcome.

Dream fulfilled

Talented artist Anya Butler from Bromsgrove School is over the moon after receiving an offer from the University she has always dreamed of attending. California Institute of the Arts is based near Los Angeles and was founded in the 1960s by Walt Disney and his brother Roy. Today the school is most famous for its four-year animation program, with animators and filmmakers Tim Burton, Stephen Hillenburg and John Lasseter amongst their notable alumni. ‘I discovered the school after finding out about alumnus Alex Hirsch, the creator of my favourite TV show, Gravity Falls’ said Anya. ‘In the future I’d love to create my own animated TV show for kids. My ultimate goal is to inspire a generation of children to be kind and creative. It’s been five years since I’ve wanted to go to CalArts and it looks like my hard work has paid off. California here I come!’

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Global city, global learning


Jason Morrow encounters the French Minister of Education in Manhattan The variety of approaches to school and opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences with educationalists, school leaders and teachers from around the world, continues to be one of the most exciting aspects of working in New York. In many ways we have been even more mindful of such opportunities over the past eighteen months as the school has designed the curriculum and wider learning opportunities for students in our newly opened Upper School. The eagerness and flexibility of other sporting, cultural and research organizations in the city to collaborate and develop partnerships adds to the overall experience for students, and will become even more critical as our pioneer classes move towards graduation, university applications and careers. I was fortunate to be able to attend a symposium recently exploring Franco-American approaches to education and what it means to offer a globally-minded education for students. The challenge for democracies of having citizens sufficiently informed, aware and intellectually confident to deal with the volume of information, misinformation and disinformation now found in the public sphere was a recurring theme in the discussions. The French Minister of Education spoke of wanting to have each classroom and school operate as a mini republic in which students could experience the value of debate, responsibility and respectful dissent. That is clearly an area on which most good schools have been working for a long time through student voice or leadership and responsibility posts. We have also ventured more into student participation in some aspects of curriculum review and development. There are currently three working groups composed of teachers and students reviewing our approach to the integration of technology into learning, financial literacy for students and making the most of home learning opportunities to support work in class. The students involved have undoubtedly helped to sharpen the focus in each of these groups on what we are trying to achieve in terms of outcomes, as well as forcing a rethink about some of the assumptions we held as teachers. It can be time-consuming and occasionally awkward to build in meaningful opportunities for this type of discussion and reflection, but there are many real positives to doing so, both in terms of refining current practice and in giving students a chance to be involved in helping to change and improve their experience of school. Whilst advocating the importance of nurturing civic values and student agency, I was a little surprised that the French Education Minister was also happy to celebrate his decision to ban the use of mobile phones from all classroom settings across France. Whatever the arguments for and against the policy, it doesn’t seem consistent with wishing to engage students in

taking responsibility for decisions or practice in their school and classroom. That tension between the desire to impose or drive a policy or approach from the centre or from government, and recognizing the benefits and value of allowing for greater autonomy or independence in schools is not new, but it has fresh urgency as a debate and potential threat for independent schools in New York. The phrase ‘substantial equivalence’ had popped up at a number of meetings and in updates from the state association of independent schools over the past year as a potential cloud on the horizon, but the hope was that it would not develop into a storm. The expectation underpinning ‘substantial equivalence’ is that all students in the state of New York should be receiving at least the equivalent of a New York public school level of education regardless of the type of school they attend. On one level that seems to be a perfectly reasonable expectation. The problem is how the current state Education Commissioner has decided to translate this into active monitoring and oversight of every school across New York. Local Superintendents of Education and School Boards, who have previously had very little (arguably too little) engagement with independent and non-public schools, have suddenly been authorized to conduct compliance visits in schools to determine if they meet the ‘substantial equivalence’ test. Many of these already overstretched and under-resourced Boards have also expressed their concerns over the viability of such an approach, and there is precious little consensus about what exactly constitutes ‘substantial equivalence’ and what the consequences of noncompliance might be. It is still not at all clear what the Education Commissioner is ultimately hoping to achieve with this very stark extension of control over independent and non-public schools, but the speed of movement is dizzying as many schools received emails on the evening of Friday 22nd March seeking to schedule evaluation visits for the first week of April. Inevitably in the US, redress is already being sought via the courts, with schools seeking an injunction to prevent visits and a full hearing to challenge whether or not the Commissioner even has the authority for such a course of action. Some school associations have simply refused to give access to their buildings or to co-operate with the process, as they see this as such a threat to their independence or their freedom to provide a specific religious education. Perhaps rather optimistically, I am hoping for an outbreak of common sense that might pave the way for more partnerships, collaboration and shared good practice between public (in US terms) and independent schools. I fear that an acrimonious court case and potential spill over into politics will make that even harder to accomplish. The uncertainty is

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Endpiece giving me a rare moment of nostalgia for ISI, where at least the terms and purpose of a visit were generally clear and agreed in advance. The last two months have also been tinged by sadness in coming to terms with the loss of Bernice McCabe, one of the best educationalists, school leaders and friends I have had the privilege to know. It is difficult to comprehend that someone so passionate, driven and excited about each new challenge and opportunity is no longer with us. Bernice was every bit as kind and caring as a friend, as she was tenacious and inspiring as a leader. She also had remarkable instincts and clarity about what really mattered in education, and she was tireless in striving to deliver it for students and in enabling others to do the same. It was so refreshing and liberating for teachers to be encouraged to continue to pursue and share their passion for their subject as the key ingredient in engaging and enthusing students. The power and impact of Bernice’s vision and approach are evident in the success of the schools she led or founded, the work of the Prince’s Teaching Institute and, most dramatically, the countless students and staff she inspired. Working closely with Bernice as part of a school leadership team will remain amongst the most rewarding and exciting experiences of my life, even though some days could be exhausting. One of the phrases she really didn’t like to hear from a candidate at interview or from someone responsible for leading others was ‘I don’t suffer fools gladly.’ Initially, I didn’t really understand why this so annoyed Bernice, but over time I came to appreciate and value that it was because of the underlying optimism, faith and confidence she had in others, and her conviction that aiming high and giving others greater self-belief could be transformational at the individual or institutional level. It’s also one of the most important mindsets and attitudes we would all do well to nurture and maintain in our efforts to lead and provide the best possible educational opportunities for our students. At the start of each new year Bernice would circulate Tim Brighouse’s Nine Levels of Delegation (see below) and discuss how she wanted to help each member of the team work towards levels 7 to 9. Authentic delegation and trust were two of Bernice’s most effective tools as a leader. Anyone who had the chance to work with Bernice will know that there could be a steep learning curve and some robust feedback and guidance

A word from the publisher

at levels 1 to 6, but will also likely have felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment and growing professional and personal confidence once they reached the ‘Take action’ levels. Largely thanks to Bernice, I see myself as having operated at 7 or 8 for much of my own time as a school leader, but still occasionally valued being able to talk over a dilemma or opportunity with her. I never really aspired to 9 and know I will not be alone in feeling the absence of such a wise, generous and brilliant friend.

The Nine Levels of Delegation (courtesy of Tim Brighouse)

1. Look into this problem/issue. Give me all the facts. I will decide what to do. 2. Let me know what alternatives are available with the pros and cons of each. I will select what to decide. 3. L  et me know the criteria for the recommendation, which alternatives you have identified, and which appears best to you with any risk noted. I will make the decision. 4. R  ecommend a course of action for my approval. 5. L  et me know what you intend to do. Delay action until I approve. 6. Let me know what you intend to do. Do it unless I say no. 7. Take action. Let me know what you did. Let me know how it turns out. 8. T  ake action. Communicate with me only if your action is unsuccessful. 9. Take action. No further communication with me is necessary. Bernice McCabe Headmistress August 2015 Jason Morrow is the Headmaster of the British International School of New York

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Conference & common room, Volume 56 Number 1 Spring 2019